Building on the overview presented in the previous sections and in Table 11-1, comparisons can be made with the results presented in Part 2 of this Outlook. In the building sector, the four reports overviewed in this Chapter point to a similarly drastic increase in the role of heat pumps, although the UK and the EU have more district heating, which is virtually absent outside the commercial sector in the results for Canada. In particular, the CEO2021 findings show no role for hydrogen in boilers that would be used for district heating. While this is an important technology and distribution option for low-carbon space heating, this difference should not be overstated as possibilities for district heating largely depend on local conditions and existing infrastructure, the latter of which is virtually absent in Canada, increasing the technology’s cost. A similar point can be made about the lower rate of heat pumps in the UK since the size of many residential dwellings limits the use of this technology, as discussed in the report.
In the transport sector, most reports insist on sales mandates for EVs. Moreover, all underscore the complexities and technological uncertainties in decarbonizing heavy transport and aviation in particular, as this Outlook does as well. Across all five reports, a similar list of technologies for heavy transport is considered, including catenary lines and hydrogen, which will require decisions for infrastructure. In other words, results for this particular segment of transportation should be treated with care as the variety in the technological mix may be reduced in practice if governments and private sectors make specific choices about which infrastructure to build.
Given the eclectic profiles of industry (outside of energy production) across the five regions covered in these reports, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions when comparing CEO2021 with the other four. Most reports insist on decarbonization of key sectors like cement and steel production, and all pay special attention to the importance of heat needs of various intensities, as does the CEO2021. As Chapter 13 points out, the variety of energy and heat needs across industrial sectors leads to a combination of different strategies that can be considered to reduce emissions, not only fuel switching, but also technological innovation, CCS, and production cuts.
The discussion over energy production, which is a major topic of interest in Canada’s situation given its importance in respect of both emissions and the economy, varies significantly across reports. Part of this is due to variations in the structure of the sector; France, for instance, has virtually no oil and gas production, while the situation is quite different for Canada and the United States, which leads to a different role for the sector to play in efforts toward net-zero. Although the US report presents a significant interval of production cuts depending on scenarios (cuts as small as 25% and up to 85% for oil, and between 25% and 90% for natural gas), the smaller end of these intervals seems much more limited compared to results in this Outlook’s NZ scenarios. Another important difference is the pace: even in US scenarios where production cuts are largest, most of these reductions happen after 2035, while NZ scenarios decarbonize this sector much quicker by dramatically decreasing productions in the next decade. To a large extent, the main reason for this is simply that the Canadian energy sector has fewer low-hanging fruit elsewhere in the economy, while other sectors in the US (power production in particular) offer the opportunity to obtain very large GHG reductions at a cheaper cost. Notably, over 500 coal powerplants are shut down in the US by 2030 in the scenarios covered.
Like the CEO2021, the four other reports extensively discuss the role of biomass, and the more specific case of BECCS, in helping reach net-zero emissions. Chapter 9 of this Outlook gives special attention to the role of biomass availability as all available biomass is used in the NZ scenarios. This comes closest to similar discussions in the US and FR: the former uses variables in scenarios to account for an expansion of biomass should land management techniques help increase the available quantity, and the latter similarly discusses the importance of the careful management of feedstock to maximize its contribution.
The link with BECCS is direct: in the US, for instance, almost all additional biomass is used for BECCS (notably for hydrogen production), a result similar to the sensitivity analysis of biomass availability in Chapter 9 of this Outlook. However, the EU and the CEO2021 provide different results on what BECCS is primarily used for as the EU sees a greater role for BECCS in industry (other than hydrogen production), notably in cement.