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Lessons Learned on Decarbonization of Energy From Countries at the Front-run

Getting to a system of a net-zero carbon power system is necessary and requires a massive investment in new low-carbon equipment ranging from renewable power plants to efficient appliances, electric vehicles, and better-constructed buildings, amongst others. China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, and the U.K. are the countries at the forefront of this transition.

How Countries can Achieve Zero- Carbon Energy

Production of energy and its use accounts for approximately three- quarters of emissions of greenhouse gas globally. Therefore it is the most critical factor in a net-zero gas emission strategy. The three main strategies that can assist countries in meeting this strategy are:

  1. Reduce energy consumption by improved efficiency (optimize).
  2. Shift demand of energy from the burning of fossil fuels to electricity (electrify).
  3. Shift wholly to non-carbon technologies to produce electricity.

The above strategies are required in all major sectors, such as the buildings, transportation, and industry, not forgetting the power system. The above countries have well adopted the strategies and have indicated huge progress in the energy sector.

According to the data from IEA and World Bank, there is a possibility that the level of energy-related emissions could still be going up regardless of the improvement of these metrics. This is primarily for the case of developing economies. To meet the net-zero emissions target, the advances in these sectors need to be large enough to overcome the rising demand for energy.

How Countries Are Decarbonizing Their Energy Systems

Several factors are affecting the countries’ decarbonization processes:

  1. Investing in energy efficiency: China, Denmark, and the U.K. have all decreased their energy intensity at about 4% annual rate and implemented investment programs to add energy efficiency.
  2. Hydropower: Costa Rica and Ethiopia have since the 1990s invested heavily in clean sources of power, mostly being hydropower. Other countries like Kenya, Brazil, and Columbia are also close to achieving zero-carbon energy through the use of hydropower. 
  3. Investment in nonhydro renewables: Several countries’ progress on energy decarbonization is driven by huge investment in solar photovoltaics, wind, and geothermal energy.
  4. Growing wealth and modernization of economies correlate with the electrification of the electricity sector: China has its quarter of energy consumption being electricity as compared to other forms of energy like natural gas and oil. The electrification process in most countries, especially developing ones, have moved in levels from 15% to around 20% since the year 1990.
  5. Unwavering commitments to clean and efficient energy; Decarbonization: Targets have been set by various countries such as the U.K, Costa Rica, Denmark, among others on decarbonization for the year 2050.  

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