Renewable Energy to Make Up for 50% of the Global Energy Mix by 2050, says DNV Study

Low-carbon hydrogen will account for only 5% of energy demand by 2050


Renewables will cut the conventional energy share in the overall energy mix to just below the 50% mark in 2050, according to a study by the Norwegian independent energy expert and assurance provider DNV.

Electrification is not only more than doubling – increasing from 27PWh/yr (electricity generation potential) in 2020 to 62PWh/yr by 2050 – but it is also greening simultaneously. The proportion supplied by wind and solar PV will rise from 11% to almost 70% by 2050.

DNV’s Energy Transition Outlook report said despite short-term raw material cost challenges, solar and wind capacity growth is positive, and by 2050 they will have grown 20-fold and 10-fold, respectively.

In its 2021 report, DNV had forecasted that by 2050, solar and wind would represent 69% of grid-connected power generation, reducing fossil power to 13%.

Indirect electrification via green hydrogen, half of which will be produced by renewable sources by 2050, will also help to decarbonize hard-to-electrify sectors like aviation, maritime transport, and high-heat processes in manufacturing.

But low and zero-carbon hydrogen will account for only 5% of energy demand by 2050, whereas a net-zero-energy system would ideally require roughly three times as much hydrogen.

The report forecasted that no new oil and gas would be needed after 2024 in high-income countries and after 2028 in the middle- and low-income countries. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regions must be net zero by 2043 and negative, while China needs to reduce emissions to zero by 2050.

Europe to accelerate transition

High energy prices and security concerns will likely dampen transition efforts outside Europe and increase the differing pace between the continent and elsewhere.

In response to war-related supply disruptions, Europe is set to accelerate its transition. However, lower-income regions in the rest of the world will likely shift their focus as they face soaring energy and food prices in the short term.

Remi Eriksen, DNV Group President and CEO, said, “The turbulence in the energy market does not dramatically alter the decarbonization pathway towards mid-century. The strongest engine of the global energy transition is the rapidly reducing costs of solar and wind energy, which will outweigh the present short-term shocks to the energy system.”

Pathway to net-zero

The DNV study said the urgent action called for by COP26 and the IPCC had not materialized, and emissions remain at record levels. Emissions must fall by 8% annually to secure net zero by 2050.

While focusing on the most feasible route to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and limiting global warming to 1.5°C, the report revealed that the planet is currently on the course to heat up by 2.2°C by 2100. Strict policy implementation and early action to curb record emissions are called for to secure net zero by 2050.

Eriksen stressing the need for robust policy, said, “With COP-27 approaching, it is important that policymakers recognize the huge opportunities inherent in decarbonizing the energy mix in light of the mounting costs of climate change impact. The technology exists to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but for this to happen, we must utilize the scope of the policy toolkit.”

“The full policy toolbox must be unpacked, including higher carbon taxes and subsidies, stronger mandates, bans and financial incentives to encourage renewables to replace fossil fuels, and smarter regulation and standards,” DNV said.

Recently, BloombergNEF found that the world’s wind and solar projects combined met more than a tenth of global electricity demand for the first time in 2021.