In terms of overall final energy consumption, electricity becomes the dominant source after 2030 in all three net-zero scenarios, taking shares from natural gas and oil products, in sharp contrast to REF and CP30 and contributing to a significant increase in energy productivity. Moreover, there is no expansion of natural gas—even before 2030—in CP30 and NZ scenarios, highlighting the incompatibility of the fuel as a transition energy source in pathways to reach neutral emissions by mid-century or even simply decrease emissions.
In all five scenarios, biomass increases rapidly between now and 2030 due to lower cost compared with electric technologies in some sectors. However, growth is then curtailed by the availability of the resource as well as the remaining emissions associated with its use.
Hydrogen remains a small share of the total even in 2060, in part due to current problems in assessing the exact technical role it can play. The sensitivity analyses presented in Chapter 9 examine how this role could change.
After 2030, the main difference across scenarios is largely due to the degree of energy demand reduction over time (compared with REF), with net-zero scenarios showing the largest decreases in demand compared to the starting point of the period. A large part of this is due to gains in efficiency from electrification, as well as from lower overall demand associated with higher energy prices.
Overall, there are relatively few differences across net-zero scenarios apart from the pace of transformation. After net-zero is attained, the situation remains mainly stable. The discussion of remaining emissions, which is thus key to complete this picture, is presented in Chapter 8.
Policies should aggressively target sectors where pace is the only variation across scenarios and where technological uncertainties are the fewest. For instance, this is the case for the buildings sector, where the role of heat pumps in residential dwellings and electric systems in commercial space is similar across all scenarios, replacing natural gas. Therefore, it seems a safe bet to encourage the rapid adoption of these technologies at little risk and reasonable cost. A similar point can be made for the decarbonization of energy use in the agriculture sector.Other sectors are much more difficult to decarbonize because of higher costs and the difficulty of substituting low-carbon technologies for other sources in some applications. Heavy commercial transport is one such case, where transformation is slow and more technologically eclectic. Given the slow evolution toward a varied technology mix in this sector, different technologies are likely to be competitive alternatives to meet demand for this sub-sector. Choices will therefore likely need to be made about which path to favour and encourage.