Latest INNOPATHS publications

Halving energy demand from buildings: The impact of low consumption practices

Limiting global warming below 1.5 °C requires rapid decarbonization of energy systems. Reductions of energy demand have an important role to play in a sustainable energy transition. Here we explore the extent to which the emergence of low energy consuming practices, encompassing new behaviors and the adoption of more efficient technologies, could contribute to lowering energy demand and thereby to reducing CO2 emissions.

To this end, we design three detailed energy consumption profiles which could be adopted by individuals in current and future wealthy regions. To what extent does the setting of air conditioners to higher temperatures or the widespread use of efficient showerheads reduce the aggregate energy demand? We investigate the potential of new practices at the global level for 2050 and 2100.

The adoption of new, energy saving practices could reduce global energy demand from buildings by up to 47% in 2050 and 61% in 2100 compared to a scenario following current trends. This strong reduction is primarily accounted for by changes in hot water usage, insulation of buildings and consumer choices in air conditioners and heat pumps. New behaviors and efficient technologies could make a significant long-term contribution to reducing buildings’ energy demand, and thus facilitate the achieval of stringent climate change mitigation targets while limiting the adverse sustainability impacts from the energy supply system.

Written by Antoine Levesque, Robert C. Pietzcker and Gunnar Luderer

Read the full article online

Assessing the impacts of setting CO2 emission targets on truck manufacturers: A model implementation and application for the EU

The European Commission introduced in 2018, for the first time, CO2emission standards for truck manufacturers, to incite additional reduction in the road transport CO2 emissions; trucks represent the second major contributor to CO2 emissions in the EU road transport. This paper presents a model based analysis which simulates the implementation of such targets in an energy economic framework and assesses the impacts of such standards using the PRIMES-TREMOVE model. We implement the CO2 emission standards on truck manufacturers as CO2 emission constraints on the new vehicle choice module. The proposed method is formulated as a mixed complementarity problem. The analysis reveals a reduction in road transport CO2 emissions and diesel consumption as a result of an uptake of more efficient truck technologies. In particular, LNG trucks are favored because of the lower emission factor of natural gas relative to that of diesel. Implementing progressively ambitious CO2 standards renders diesel trucks more expensive as their energy efficiency potential reaches its technical limit.

Written by Pelopidas and Yannis Moysoglou

Read the full publication online

Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool authors Visions of Energy Futures: Imagining and Innovating Low-Carbon Transitions

INNOPATHS consortium member, Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool has authored a recent book entitled, Visions of Energy Futures: Imagining and Innovating Low-Carbon Transitions, that uses INNOPATHS initial work and findings.

This book examines the visions, fantasies, frames, discourses, imaginaries, and expectations associated with six state-of-the-art energy systems—nuclear power, hydrogen fuel cells, shale gas, clean coal, smart meters, and electric vehicles—playing a key role in current deliberations about low-carbon energy supply and use.

Visions of Energy Futures: Imagining and Innovating Low-Carbon Transitions unveils what the future of energy systems could look like, and how their meanings are produced, often alongside moments of contestation.

Read more about it here.

Transformative versus conservative automotive innovation styles: Contrasting the electric vehicle manufacturing strategies for the BMW i3 and Fiat 500e

The automotive industry is a critically important stakeholder influencing the sustainability of passenger transport. How traditional car manufacturers respond to carbon reduction and vehicle targets, alongside other selection pressures, can greatly influence the availability and affordability of new innovations such as electric vehicles. In this paper, we explore the automotive innovation styles surrounding two electric vehicles: the BMW i3, and the Fiat 500e. To do so, we tie together ideas from technological innovation systems and corporate product innovation style. Our results illustrate a case of a “compliance car,” the Fiat 500e, vs. the first mass production EV by a major German car manufacturer, the BMW i3. BMW adheres to a transformative change-shaping innovation style that attempts to promote in-house learning that can create value. Fiat adheres to a conservative sustaining innovation style that attempts to outsource innovation, promotes limited learning, and focuses on maintaining value. Both styles interestingly result in converging product development patterns over time.

Written by Benjamin K. Sovacool, Jan-Christoph Rogge, Claudio Saleta and Edward Masterson-Cox

Read the full article online

Justice, poverty, and electricity decarbonization

Drawing from examples in Germany, California, and Australia, we show that large scale integration of renewable energy in existing electricity grids does not necessarily lead to cheaper electricity, the strengthening of energy security, or the enhancement of economic equity. Indeed, efforts to integrate renewable energy into the grid can thwart efforts to reduce chronic poverty. Planners around the world need to be cautious, pragmatic and realistic when attempting to similarly decarbonize their energy systems.

Written by Chukwuka G. Monyei, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Marilyn A. Brown, Kirsten E.H. Jenkins, Serestina Viriri and Yufei Li

Read the full article online

How do policies mobilize private finance for renewable energy?—A systematic review with an investor perspective

With the urgency of climate change, and billions spent globally on renewable energy (RE) support policies, it is crucial to understand which policies are effective. Substantial scholarly research on RE deployment policies has been carried out over the last two decades, resulting in inconclusive findings regarding the effectiveness of mobilizing private finance. Here, we take a novel perspective and review 96 empirical studies concerning the impact of policies on two key investor decision metrics: investment risk and investment return. Only if both metrics correspond to the investors’ expectations are they willing to engage in RE projects. First, our rigorous literature review shows that effective policies address risk and return simultaneously. Second, we find that generic instrument design features, such as credibility and predictability (continuous evaluation and monitoring), considerably impact investment risk. A more focused analysis of the specific design elements of feed-in tariffs, auctions and renewable portfolio standards reveals that these instruments are most effective when they are designed in such a way that they reduce RE project risk while increasing return. We distil important implications for policymakers who aim to foster renewable energy and clean technologies more broadly.

Written by Friedemann Polzin, Florian Egli, Bjarne Steffen and Tobias S. Schmidt

Read the full publication online

Temporality, vulnerability, and energy justice in household low carbon innovations

Decarbonisation and innovation will change the affordability of different domestic energy services. This has the potential to alleviate vulnerability to fuel poverty, but it could create new injustices unless the risks are preempted and actively mitigated. In this paper, we ask: In what ways can emerging low-carbon innovations at the household scale complement, and complicate, achieving energy justice objectives? Drawing from four empirical case studies in the United Kingdom, the paper highlights different risks that come from different types of innovation required to tackle different decarbonisation challenges. More specifically, it assesses four particular household innovations—energy service contracts, electric vehicles, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, and low carbon heating—selected for their fit with a typology of incremental vs. radical technology and modest vs. substantial changes in user practices. It shows how in each case, such innovations come with a collection of opportunities but also threats. In doing so, the paper seeks to unveil the “political economy” of low-carbon innovations, identifying particular tensions alongside who wins and who loses, as well as the scope and temporality of those consequences.

Written by Benjamin K. Sovacool, Matthew M. Lipson and Rose Chard

Read the full article online

Energy Injustice and Nordic Electric Mobility: Inequality, Elitism, and Externalities in the Electrification of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Transport

Much research on electric mobility transitions has been descriptive or positive, rather than normative or critical, assessing the deeper ethical, justice, or moral issues that arise. To address this gap, this study qualitatively examines the ongoing transition to Nordic electric vehicles(EVs) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems. It does so through the various lenses of distributive justiceprocedural justice, cosmopolitan justice, and recognition justice. It asks: what are the types of injustices associated with electric mobility and V2G? In what ways do emerging patterns of electric mobility worsen socio-environmental risks or vulnerabilities? Based on original primary data collected from 257 experts across Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, the study finds that electric mobility can erode elements of distributive justice for being accessible only to the rich, and for raising risks related to privacy, hacking, and cyberterrorism. Electric mobility may contravene aspects of procedural justice by reinforcing exclusion and elitism in national planning. It can erode cosmopolitan justice by producing negative environmental externalities, and exacerbating rural (and global) vulnerability. It may threaten recognition justice through unemployment, disruption to traditional businesses, and the entrenchment of patriarchy. Thankfully, the study also proposes a suite of policy mechanisms to address many of these concerns.

By Benjamin K. Sovacool, Johannes Kester, Lance Noel, Gerardo Zarazua de Rubens.

Read the full article online

Solid state generators and energy harvesters for waste heat recovery and thermal energy harvesting

This review covers solid state thermal to electrical energy converters capable of transforming low grade heat directly into electricity for waste heat recovery and thermal energy harvesting. Direct solid state heat engines, such as thermoelectric modules and thermionic converters for spatial temperature gradients, are compared with pyroelectric energy harvesters and thermomagnetic generators for transient changes in temperature. Temperature and size limitations along with the maturity of the technologies are discussed based on energy density and temperature range for the different generator technologies. Despite the low energy conversion efficiency with solid state generators, electric power density ranges from 4 nW/mm2 to 324 mW/mm2. The most promising sector to implement changes while reducing the primary energy consumption and saving resources, is the processing industry along with stationary and mobile electronics.

Written by D. Zabek and F. Morini

Read the full article online

A quantitative analysis of 10 multilateral development banks’ investment in conventional and renewable power-generation technologies from 2006 to 2015

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) play a pivotal role in the financing of electricity-generation projects in developing countries, thus having a major impact on the emission pathways of these countries. While information about the MDBs’ investments is publicly available, it is dispersed and hard to compare. A comprehensive compilation of all MDBs’ power-generation investments over the years has been missing. To address this gap, here we assess power-generation financing by all ten relevant MDBs during 2006–2015, in different regions, and through different branches of the banks. The study assesses technology choices by compiling a bottom-up dataset drawing information from 841 projects and programmes. We find that MDBs financed a major portion of all power-generation growth in the developing world, with an increasing share of renewables. However, MDBs have ‘greened’ their portfolios to different extents, and the activities of their public- and private-sector branches differ substantially.

Written by Bjarne Steffen and Tobias Schmidt

Read the full article online