The transition

The energy transition can be described as a double challenge: gradually ending the use of certain energies (fossil fuel and even nuclear energy) and developing renewable energies. At the same time, this must be accompanied by a reduction in energy consumption.

Since 1997, with the Kyoto Protocol, various international, European and national agreements have been agreed in order to reduce our energy consumption. At the European level, an energy-climate plan has been adopted by the European Commission, which sets forth the following 3 goals to be completed by 2030:

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% (based on 1990 levels);

Increase the share of renewable energies to, at least, 27%;

Improve energy efficiency by at least 27%.

In order to achieve this goal of reducing GHG emissions, industries included in the CO2 emissions trading scheme must reduce their emissions by 43% and other industries by 30%, based on their 2005 emissions.

Changes in international and nation consumption levels

At the international level, primary energy consumption has grown steadily over the past 40 years, with fossil fuels accounting for nearly 80% of the global energy supply in 2015.

This phenomenon has also been observed at the national level in France, despite a tendency towards stabilization of primary energy consumption over the past ten years. The rate of change can vary, depending on the energy being considered; coal and oil consumption fell by 69%, with a 35% decrease occurring in the last 40 years. Gas consumption has tripled during the same period, with primary electricity having multiplied by a factor of 15. This upward trend in consumption levels will have direct impacts on the energy bills of governments, households, businesses, communities, etc.

Energy Insecurity


Households can be particularly affected by an increase in their consumption and energy costs. In 2015, the share of household income spent on energy (delivery and use combined) was 8.5%. If this portion exceeds 10%, the household is said to be in a state of “energy insecurity”. In 2013, a housing survey carried out by the INSEE showed that 5.8 million French households suffered from energy insecurity.


The majority of GHG emissions are caused by energy consumption, therefore reducing an organization or territory’s GHG emissions requires the implementation of actions to reduce energy consumption and the development of renewable energy, which will often result in the creation of jobs.

A necessary reduction in energy consumption

Faced with a growing population and an ever increasing amount of consumption, it is now time to think about reducing our energy consumption levels. Energy sobriety and efficiency must be given priority;

Energy efficiency is the reduction of the amount energy used for a given task. It is based on technological changes that allow for more efficient energy consuption, without a modification in the manner in which a task is completed. For example, installing insulation that reduces the amount of energy needed to heat a home.

Energy sobriety is based on changes in behavior and therefore corresponds to the human factor involved in energy transition. For example, setting a home thermostat at 19°C, rather than 23°C.

Reducing energy consumption cannot be seperated from the goal of developing renewable energies.

Intergrating renewable energies

Along with the implementation of energy reduction actions, the development of renewable energies is essential to avoid depleting non-renewable resources and reduce the impact on health of convential fossil fuels, as well as reducing energy dependance. Changes to the energy mix should help to reduce carbon footprints. Today, there are a number of scenarios which envision a world which uses 100% renewable energy.


At the national level, a Factor 4 goal, or dividing our emissions by a factor of 4 by 2050, was included in the POPE Law of 13 July 2005, and has been included in the Grenelle laws. More recently, on 17 August 2015, the French Energy Transition Law for Green Growth was enacted which set the following objectives:

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030 and dividing greenhouse gas emissions by 4 between 1990 and 2050 (Factor 4).

Reducing final energy consumption by 50% by 2050, in comparison to 2012, by having an intermediate target of 20% by 2030;

A reduction of 30% in primary energy consumption by 2030, in comparison to 2012;

Increasing the share of renewable energies to 23% of gross final energy consumption by 2020, and to 32% of gross final energy consumption by 2030;

Increasing the share of nuclear power for electricity production to 50% by 2025;

As part of this law, several tools anticipate a national low carbon strategy or a multiannual energy program.

 

Solutions to kickstart the transition

There are many solutions for a successful transition, some taking place over many years. Today’s challenge is to consolidate these solutions in order to sucessfully complete this ambitious transition. These solutions include:

Energy rehabilitation of buildings

Reducing food waste

The promotion of sustainable and responsible agriculture

The development of sustainable, low-emisssion methods of transportation

An improvement in the energy efficiency of industrial processes…

Undertaking these actions will lead to improvements in our living environment, and will have positive impacts on the environment, health, air quality, etc…

What is an energy transition? (Source: Ministry for an Ecological and Inclusive Transition)

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