Energy Sustainability

Graphical abstract showing how resources depend on income
Low-income households (LIHs) have experienced increased poverty and inaccess to healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting their ability to adhere to health-protective behaviors. We use an epidemiological model to show how a households' inability to adopt social distancing, owing to constraints in utility and healthcare expenditure, can drastically impact the course of disease outbreaks in five urban U.S. counties.
Major infrastructure financiers will have to significantly decarbonize their investments to meet mounting promises to cut carbon emissions to “net-zero” by mid-century. We provide new details about those needed shifts. Using two World Bank databases of infrastructure projects throughout the developing world, and applying a methodology for imputing the projects' likely future carbon output, we assess the emissions profile of power-plant projects executed from 2018 through 2020 — the three years immediately preceding the spate of net-zero pledges.
As large renewable capacities penetrate the European energy system and the climate faces significant alterations, the future operation of hydropower reservoirs might deviate from today. In this work, we first analyze the changes in hydropower operation required to balance a wind- and solar-dominated European energy system. Second, we apply runoff data obtained from combining five different global circulation models and two regional climate models to estimate future reservoir inflow at three CO2 emissions scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5).
Owing to its versatility, biomass can be used for a range of CO2 mitigation and removal options. The recent adoption of end-of-century temperature targets at the global scale, along with mid-century economy-wide net zero emission targets in Europe, has boosted demand forecasts for this valuable resource. Given the limited nature of sustainable biomass supply, it is important to understand most efficient uses of biomass, both in terms of avoided CO2 emissions (i.e., substituted energy and economic services) and CO2 removal.
The question of how to enable an effective, modern, global energy transition is garnering significant interest in both academic and policy making communities. Composite statistical indices have emerged as a useful class of tools to offer policymakers additional insights into the state and trajectory of energy transitions around the world. In this commentary, we discuss the purpose of energy indices in general and document several prominent examples. We then introduce and place in this landscape the World Economic Forum's Energy Transitions Index (ETI).