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BP publishes second edition of BP Technology Outlook

16 March 2018

The report considers the potential impact of advances in technology throughout the global energy system to 2050, without predicting policy. It explores five areas where BP believes technology can play a game-changing role: Energy efficiency; digital; renewable power; energy storage; and decarbonized gas.

Key conclusions from the BP Technology Outlook 2018 include:

* While meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement is technically feasible, the Outlook’s modelling suggests that technology advances alone cannot deliver the carbon reductions needed. It suggests further action is required, particularly policy measures such as putting a price on carbon emissions, as well as consumers making lower-carbon choices.

* Improvements in energy efficiency have the potential to save around 40% of current primary energy use, although many of the improvements require significant investment. Areas where savings can be made include increasing vehicle efficiency, improving building design, and the use of energy in cooking and washing.

* Digital technology, including sensors, big data and artificial intelligence, is the most significant source of system-wide efficiency improvement.

* Onshore wind power looks set to become the most economical source of electricity by 2050, with grid-scale solar power also becoming much more competitive. However, there are integration costs to overcome intermittency issues when a high proportion of grid demand is provided by wind and solar power.

* The way goods and people are transported will continue to change significantly, led by, but not limited to, electrification of lighter duty applications as batteries improve. Liquefied natural gas is projected to become a competitive fuel for heavy duty trucks and some ships, and bio-jet remains one of the only viable solutions to reduce emissions in aviation.

* Technology can reduce average lifecycle costs for oil and gas production by around 30% over the long term, but around $0.6 trillion investment a year in upstream oil and gas is still needed to meet projected demand.

* Space heating is likely to continue to be primarily provided by gas-fired appliances although a high carbon pricing could favour hybrid appliances using heat pumps supplemented with gas, as well as all-electric systems.

* Decarbonized gas - including gas with carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), synthetic gas, bio-gas and hydrogen - has wide potential application in balancing power systems, and in the heating and heavy duty transport sectors.

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