Transportation – Renewable buildings and transport will be crucial to ensure energy security
Cities are responsible for 65% of global energy demand. Their contribution will, therefore, be crucial in accelerating the world’s transition to a sustainable energy future. Given a continued urban population growth – including the migration of some 80 million people from rural to urban areas each year – the importance of cities continues to rise.
Renewable energy solutions for buildings, transport, and other urban systems will be especially crucial to ensure energy security, fulfill climate commitments and secure social benefits for all urban residents. Fortunately, successes are already being achieved.
As drivers of change, cities assume a multitude of roles, including decision-making, planning, giving key authorizations, managing assets, operating local energy suppliers and providing guidance or models for the public to follow. Municipalities can encourage, enable, measure and regulate the shift to new energy technologies and inform the debate on the necessary changes before turning them into relevant policies.
The transport sector represents a third of global energy demand and 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions – it is also the sector with the lowest level of renewable energy use.
We are engaged in numerous activities and projects that support more use of renewables in the sector. The share of renewable energy in the transport sector is only around 3% at present; however, there is the potential to as much as quadruple the renewable energy share by 2030 and go even further by mid-decade.
A transformation in the transport sector energy use is required if the world is to meet its climate objectives, improve the sustainability of urban environments, improve energy security and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Electric transportation offers ideal opportunities for the broader introduction of renewables to the transport sector. As energy-consuming technologies, electric vehicles (EV) create new demand for electricity that can be supplied by renewables. In addition to the benefits of this shift, such as reducing CO2 emissions and air pollution, electric mobility also creates significant efficiency gains and could emerge as an important source of storage for variable sources of renewable electricity.
Our analysis shows that EVs have significant growth potential:
- There is the potential to increase the number of electric passenger cars from just over 2 million in 2016 to 200 million in 2030.
- Electric two- and three-wheeled vehicles could outnumber four-wheeled vehicles, with as many as 900 million on the roads by 2030.
- Electric buses and light-duty vehicles could number well over 10 million by 2030.
Electric vehicles provide opportunities to link the renewable power and low-carbon transport sectors.
- linked power, heating and transport sectors will increasingly play a role.
- Storage and the ability to introduce higher shares of variable renewable power into the grid will be key drivers.
- EVs offer multiple solutions for growing urban environments and cities, including in terms of their energy needs
Challenges to overcome in achieving the potential increase in use include:
- Increasing average annual sales of EVs from under 1 million in 2017 to 10 million by the early 2020s.
- Vehicle cost is key, and the price of battery packs remains high.
- Investing in charging infrastructure is also necessary to accelerate sales.