Energy Pathways

The overall aim of the energy pathways flagship program is to study and evaluate pathways towards a sustainable energy system under uncertainty. Starting from the present system the desirable (sustainable) future is unknown and therefore “bridging technologies/systems” must be implemented on a large scale before a sustainable future might be reached.

We want to develop a capability to handle the uncertainty by combining a pathway analysis – starting from the present system – with a backcasting analysis from visions of future systems, and thereby identify possibilities and risks with the bridging system. This includes minimizing the risk of lock-in effects from bridging technologies.

Stakeholders collaborate in identifying and assessing near term technologies leading to appropriate, sustainable energy systems for different regions of the world.

Policy makers are supported and assisted in seeking good choices. A set of currently and soon-to-be-available technologies and strategies can substantially reduce CO2 emissions, immediately, but we need to identify those options that are robust and select those that should be encouraged.

At present 85 % of all commercial energy consumed comes from fossil fuels. New renewable energy sources will not make a major impact for several decades. Meanwhile the CO2 releases related to fossil fuels are changing global climate systems and even the most optimistic projections foresee a worsening of this problem as energy demands increase.

There is a need for research that takes on these problems now and pro­vides realistic solutions in terms of technology, policy and economy.

The energy flagship program near-term pathways to a sustainable energy future identifies – and communicates to decision makers – robust transi­tional systems or energy pathways that bridge today’s energy technologies, infrastructures, and markets, to future sustainable systems.

The program is based on four large studies:

  1. Pathways to a Sustainable European Energy Systems
  2. Future Vehicles and Fuels
  3. MIT-Portugal Sustainable Energy Futures collaboration
  4. Japan Low Carbon Society Scenarios toward 2050

More information:
Stephen R. Connors
Director of Energy Flagship Program

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