Energy Options Network’s mission is to multiply and accelerate transformative zero carbon technology options available for large-scale, affordable, market-based decarbonization of the global economy over a wide range of future scenarios.
Each element of our mission statement deserves explanation:
Multiply and accelerate: Because we cannot predict future energy demand or the amount and timing of associated CO2 emissions reduction needed with any precision, we must rapidly develop a more robust set of zero-carbon energy technology solutions than is currently available to cover the broad and uncertain cloud of possible futures.
Transformative energy technology options: Large-scale change cannot occur unless the solutions are real possibilities that are functionally adequate and demonstrated.
Available: The solutions must be ready to be broadly implemented, at commercial scale, commercial risk levels, and commercially financeable.
Large-Scale: The global economy is likely to grow by a factor of four by 2050, and global energy demand could potentially grow by a factor of 10 this century. We need energy solutions that can be deployed faster, and at a larger scale, than any energy technology has been in history.
Affordable: No solution will ultimately be able to achieve the necessary scale unless it is affordable. Solutions need to be either economically competitive with carbon-emitting alternatives or have sufficiently small incremental costs to make the policy drivers needed to deploy them politically feasible. Even if there were a consensus around policy backed by real political will, we would still need to use the power of the market to make changes of the necessary scope. Targeted policies can support this process, but policy cannot be relied upon to be the primary driver of large-scale deployment for the foreseeable future.
Decarbonization: To stabilize climate at moderate levels of warming, global CO2 emissions will need to eventually drop to virtually zero, in spite of expected massive growth in the world economy and concomitant energy demand.
Global: Solutions must be available for the many different contexts beyond today’s developed world. Nearly all population growth and at least three-quarters of energy demand growth this century will occur in developing countries. Political, cultural, economic, and energy resource contexts will vary widely across those regions, requiring energy technology solutions appropriate to diverse contexts.
Economy: Massive growth of the global economy may well be a precondition for population stabilization, as has been suggested in recent research. The sooner this wealth is generated, the lower the global peak population number and associated energy demand is likely to be.
Wide range of future scenarios: The many climate science uncertainties today preclude reliable predictions of global impacts resulting from significantly increased GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. Large uncertainties exist about future energy demand due to variables such as population and economic growth, increases in per capita energy consumption, and other factors. These combined uncertainties suggest that the sensible approach is to quickly develop a set of affordable energy technology solutions that can solve the problem over the full range of future scenarios: high to low population growth, fast to slow economic growth, high to low energy intensity, slower or faster decarbonization, severe to moderate climate forcing, and moderate to severe climate effects. In summary, we need to plan for the worst, while hoping for the best.