Speed, the forgotten cost reduction factor in the energy transition
To keep global warming below 1.5 °C, our energy systems need to be carbon emission free latest by 2050, and many countries have pledged to do so. A high-level model was built for a fictitious economy called Utopia to assess three pathways towards a zero-carbon economy by 2050: a gradual (linear) replacement of fossil fuels by clean energy, an accelerated pathway leading to a carbon free system by 2035, and a delayed pathway, in which replacement takes place from 2035 onwards. The model yields very clear results. The accelerated pathway is not only 21% cheaper than a gradual phasing out of fossil fuels, with accumulated savings of $4 trillion over a period of 30 years, but also the climate wins, with emissions reducing from 32.7 GT to 13.1 GT over the same period.