Page 10 - Contemporary ENERGY Vol3 No2 (2017)
P. 10

International Journal of Contemporary ENERGY, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2017)  ISSN 2363-6440

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ENERGY FOR TOMORROW:
THE TRANSITION OF THE GLOBAL
ENERGY SYSTEM

It is a well-established fact that, during last decades, an increasing awareness of environmental issues has been observed
at global level, even if with specific local declinations and exceptions. As a consequence, ad hoc international
agreements (like the 2015 Paris Agreement) have been proposed, in order to set long term sustainability targets and to
define appropriate pathways to reach them. In particular, as known, the main goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit the
global average temperature rise below 2 °C by the end of this Century with respect to the pre-industrial level, with the
final purpose of counteracting the deriving climate changes (like the increase in the sea level and the reduction of
glaciers surface) that are severely affecting the planet and that can lead to potentially destructive impacts not only on
ecosystems, but also on human societies.

In order to reach this ambitious target, different measures and strategical plans have to be implemented, mostly
involving the global energy system.

In fact, in comparison with the "traditional" environmental targets of the past, this long-term question (what is the
quality of the global environment that we want to ensure for the next generations?) does not require "traditional"
answers, like the common energy policies set during last years, but it needs a new energy vision.

This new paradigm is embodied by the so called "energy transition" towards decarbonized configurations of energy
systems, characterised by a reduction in fossil fuels consumption and by a strong penetration of renewables in the final
uses of energy. Besides, it is mandatory to push on the enhancement of energy efficiency in order to reduce the amount
of energy requested to satisfy the same services demands (space heating and cooling, lighting, cooking, use of
appliances, mobility of passengers and goods, industrial production, etc.).

To do this, an electrification of the end-uses, starting from the current value of 18.5% (2015, source: IEA), coupled with
a power generation from renewables, could be the only really feasible option.

Both these strategies (energy efficiency and electrification) require, however, relevant technological changes and
innovations that could represent a scientific and engineering challenge. In fact, if in some sectors, like residential and
passenger transport, a shift towards electricity-fuelled technologies could be relatively easy - or at least possible - over
a mid-term time horizon, the same pathway in other sectors like industry and freight transport could be not trivial.

Moreover, this evolutive paradigm can lead to new social opportunities in terms of energy accessibility (for instance in
African countries), but also to possible issues related to the change in the geopolitical framework, with a modification
of the consolidated international equilibria established in the last 50 years.

All these considerations underline the need for a different approach to energy-related themes by the scientific
community. From one side, a high-level of specialisation is requested, due to the complexity of current and future

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