‘Net zero by 2050? Not even close, with current energy infrastructure delivery’

Solar projects covering an area equivalent of 260 Tokyo Olympic stadiums would need to be built in the US every week from now until 2050 to help the country reach net zero, according to a new report

The Big Zero report

Without restructuring the way energy projects are delivered, the world may not make it even halfway to net zero by 2050.

That’s just one of the stark findings from a new report released by industrial engineering solutions firm Worley and Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, which uses the US as the core case study and explores future scenario net zero pathways.

Under one pathway, the US would need to build solar projects in an area covering the equivalent of 260 Tokyo Olympic stadiums every week from now until 2050 to reach net zero.

In another scenario, more than 250 large nuclear power plants would be needed to help the country fulfill its net zero commitments.

The report also explores five key shifts in the development of energy infrastructure projects that can deliver a transition to net zero.

These include a ‘redefinition of project value’, which means that developers’ emphasis should shift from financial to social and environmental value.

The authors of the analysis also note that data and digitisation should be fully embraced to maximise the potential of project builds, while governments, industry and communities need to collaborate more effectively.

The report also suggests that the standardisation of energy infrastructure designs could accelerate project builds.

Dr Clare Anderson, Group Sustainability Lead Worley, said: “The challenge to reach net zero by 2050 is significant. The reality is, if we develop energy infrastructure the way we always have, we won’t get to net zero by 2050, not even close.

“We need imaginative solutions that are aggressively adaptive and we need them now. It is an urgent priority for governments and industry to shift focus to the practical challenge of delivering energy infrastructure at an unprecedented level.”

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