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Energy Technology Perspectives 2020

Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 is a flagship report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) released in September 2020 to provide a detailed analysis of the opportunities presented by electrification, hydrogen, bioenergy and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS), and other technology that will be required to reach international climate targets.  This report includes a special section on technology needed to transition heavy industry, including building materials manufacturing, as difficult-to-abate sectors requiring additional attention.  

The report also identifies the building sector as key to reducing these difficult-to-abate heavy industry emissions due to its influence on global materials manufacturing emissions.  

Over the past twenty years, steel use has more than doubled and cement use has increased by 50%. This growth in material use, accompanied by a similar increase in emissions, is a result of the growth of global building floor areas. Despite efforts to reduce embodied carbon, the report predicts that embodied carbon emissions from cement and steel manufacturing will increase from less than 20% of total building sector emissions up to 40% of emissions by the 2060s. This is due to the difficulty in abating material manufacturing emissions in comparison with operational carbon from building use.  

Material efficiency strategies, including strategies to renovate existing buildings, are estimated to comprise roughly one-third of the reductions in steel and cement emissions by 2070 according to the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS). 

The IEA held a webinar in December 2020 to focus on the findings of the report that relate to the building sector, which can be found here: ETP 2020: a path for the decarbonisation of the buildings sector. 

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