The politics of energy scenarios: Are International Energy Agency and other conservative projections hampering the renewable energy transition?
Carrington, Gerry; Stephenson, Janet
Scenario-building assists commissioning organisations to understand the multiple forces that shape their future. Governments and investors use the scenario projections of authoritative organisations to help drive their planning and decision-making. But what if scenarios consistently fail to represent a credibly established technology trajectory, particularly for a topic as critical as the world's future energy systems? We examine solar PV projections in 26 recent global energy scenarios, contrasting them with academic studies and other analyses, and find that they all fail to account fully for technology developments and recognise plausible upper levels of solar PV growth. Drilling deeper into the influential World Energy Outlook scenarios of the International Energy Agency, which are amongst the more conservative of the 26 scenarios, we explore possible reasons for, and the implications of, their projections for solar PV growth. We conclude that low scenario projections such as the IEA's are likely to deter investments in innovation and development that would otherwise occur. If authoritative scenarios fully acknowledge the possibility of continuing rapid growth of solar PV, investors, governments and the energy sector will be encouraged to take a more optimistic view of the market potential, thus creating positive feedback loops of belief, investment, and growth.
Keywords: Solar PV, Scenario, Growth projection, Energy transition
Research Type: Commissioned Report for External Body
The following licence files are associated with this item: