How far can low-carbon energy scenarios reach based on proven technologies?

  • Jhonathan Fernandes Torres de Souza
  • Sergio Almeida PaccaEmail author
Original Article


In recent years, nations, states and provinces have been proactively combating climate change, supported by the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) outcomes. In the meantime, several studies have evaluated regional strategies for greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. Although these studies propose scenarios that meet the climate policy pledges, most of them are based on measures that have not been commercially demonstrated yet, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS). The aim of this work is to develop a low-carbon scenario for the energy sector in Sao Paulo, Brazil (whose emissions are significant at the regional and national level) until 2050 and to verify if a proven, technology-based approach meets the current policy goals. Although the analysis is based on a developing country, Sao Paulo state is the most developed region in Brazil. Consequently, the analysis presented in this work may be replicated in other regional settings, with distinct development stages, which demand increasing energy futures. In the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, energy demand increases 2.6% per year until 2050, and emissions consequently increase 2.8% per year, reaching 235 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (tCO2). If four alternatives proposed in the low-carbon (LC) scenario were implemented, 28% of the BAU emissions would be avoided. However, even with this LC scenario, Sao Paulo would not meet the state pledge, remaining 44% above the policy emission cap. This result means that more audacious measures are needed to achieve an effective result. Such measures must push the current technical, scientific, and industrial knowledge and may require a biodiesel share over 20% in diesel blend, extensive increases in renewable energy supply, CCS, and bioenergy associated with CCS. Finally, we suggest some key points to apply this analysis in other regions, considering their own energy mix.


Energy sector CDM Renewable sources Stabilization wedges Brazil 


Funding information

This study received funding from Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) (grant 2017/02979-5).


  1. ABIOVE, APROBIO, UBRABIO (2016) Biodiesel: oportunidades e desafios no longo prazo. Brasília. Acessed 3 March 2018
  2. ABIOVE, APROSOJA, ABRABIO (2013) Pegada de Carbono na Produção de Biodiesel de Soja. Reference period 2008/9. Prepared by Delta CO2 – Sustentabilidade ambiental. Accessed 4 March 2018
  3. Andrade AL, Santos MA (2015) Hydroelectric plants environmental viability: strategic environmental assessment application in Brazil. Renew Sust Energ Rev 52:1413–1423. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bazan J, Rieradevall J, Gabarrell X, Vazquez-Rowe I (2018) Low-carbon electricity production through the implementation of photovoltaic panels in rooftops in urban environments: a case study for three cities in Peru. Sci Total Environ 622-623:1448–1462. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bodansky DM, Hoedl SA, Metcalf GE, Stavins RN (2016) Facilitating linkage of climate policies through the Paris outcome. Clim Pol 16:956–972. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brasil (2007) Plano Nacional de Energia 2030. MME and EPE, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  7. Brasil (2015) Federative Republic of Brazil - INDC. Accessed 3 March 2018
  8. Brasil (2016) Balanço Energético Nacional 2016: Ano base 2015. MME and EPE, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  9. Brasil (2017) Plano Decenal de Expansão de Energia 2026. MME and EPE, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  10. Brasil (2017a) BEN - Séries Históricas completas. Capitulo 8 (Dados Energéticos Estaduais) 1970–2016. [xls file] TABELA 8.1.e - Geração de Eletricidade por Fonte. Acessed 2 March 2018
  11. Brasil (2017b) Projeções do Agronegócio. Brasil 2016/17 a 2026/27. Ministério de Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  12. Brasil (2018) Fator médio - Inventários Corporativos. [xls file]. MCTIC, Brasília. Accessed 3 March 2018
  13. Bright RM, Strømman AH (2010) Fuel-mix, fuel efficiency, and transport demand affect prospects for biofuels in northern Europe. Environ Sci Technol 44:2261–2269. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brun A (2016) Conference diplomacy: the making of the Paris Agreement. Polit Gov 4. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. CETESB (2011) 1° Inventário de emissões antrópicas de gases de efeito estufa diretos e indiretos do Estado de São Paulo, 2nd edn. CETESB, São PauloGoogle Scholar
  16. Chen C, Long HL, Zeng XT (2018) Planning a sustainable urban electric power system with considering effects of new energy resources and clean production levels under uncertainty: a case study of Tianjin, China. J Clean Prod 173:67–81. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. CONAB (2017) Acomp. safra bras. Cana. v. 3 - Haverst 2016/17, n. 4. Fourth survey. CONAB, BrasíliaGoogle Scholar
  18. De Oliveira FC, Coelho ST (2017) History, evolution, and environmental impact of biodiesel in Brazil: a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 75:168–179. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Di Sbroiavacca N, Nadal G, Lallana F, Falzon J, Calvin K (2016) Emissions reduction scenarios in the Argentinean Energy Sector. Energy Econ 56:552–563. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dong H, Mangino J, MCAllister TA, Hatfield JL, Johnson DE, Keith RL, Lima MA, Romanovskaya A (2006) Emissions from livestock and manure management. In: IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. v. 4: agriculture, forestry and other land use. IGES, Hayama, pp 10.1–87Google Scholar
  21. EIA (2017) Annual Energy Outlook 2017. [xls file] Table A2. Energy consumption by sector and source. 2017. Acessed 4 March 2018
  22. Fajardy M, MACDowell N (2017) Can BECCS deliver sustainable and resource efficient negative emissions? Energy Environ Sci 10:1389–1426. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. FIESP (2016) ConstruBusiness 12° Congresso Brasileiro da Construção. FIESP, São PauloGoogle Scholar
  24. Fiorino DJ (2014) Too many levels or just about right? Multilevel governance and performance environmental. Weibust I, Meadowcroft J (Ed.) Multilevel Environmental Governance, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham. pp. 15–36Google Scholar
  25. Fragkos P, Tasios N, Paroussos L, Capros P, Tsani S (2017) Energy system impacts and policy implications of the European intended nationally determined contribution and low-carbon pathway to 2050. Energy Policy 100:216–226. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Garcia DP, Caraschi JC, Ventorim G, Vieira FHA (2016) Trends and challenges of Brazilian pellets industry originated from agroforestry. Cerne 22:233–240. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gomez DR, Watterson JD, Americano BB, Ha C, Marland G, Matsika E, Namayanga LN, Elasha BO, Saka JDK, Treanton K (2006).Stationary combustion. In: IPCC. 2006 IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. v. 2: energy. IGES, Hayama, pp 2.1–47Google Scholar
  28. Gouvello C (2010) Brazil low-carbon country case study. World Bank, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  29. Grinin L, Tsirel S, Korotayev A (2015) Will the explosive growth of China continue? Technol Forecast Soc Chang 95:294–308. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Han S, Chen H, Long RY, Cui XT (2018) Peak coal in China: a literature review. Resour Conserv Recycl 129:293–306. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. IBGE (2016) Contas Regionais 2014: cinco estados responderam por quase dois terços do PIB do país. Estatísticas econômicas. Acessed 2 March 2018
  32. IBGE (n.d.) Cidades. Acessed 2 March 2018
  33. IPCC (2005) IPCC special report on carbon dioxide capture and storage. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  34. IPCC (2006) 2006 IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories: energy. In: Eggleston S et al (eds) Hayama (Japan)Google Scholar
  35. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. Geneva (Switzerland)Google Scholar
  36. Johnson J, Chertow M (2009) Climate stabilization wedges in action: a systems approach to energy sustainability for Hawaii Island. Environ Sci Technol 43:2234–2240. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Khatiwada D, Seabra J, Silveira S, Walter A (2012) Power generation from sugarcane biomass - a complementary option to hydroelectricity in Nepal and Brazil. Energy 48:241–254. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. MCDowall W, Eames M (2006) Forecasts, scenarios, visions, backcasts and roadmaps to the hydrogen economy: a review of the hydrogen futures literature. Energy Policy 34:1236–1250. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. MCKinsey & Company (2009) Caminhos para uma economia de baixa emissão de carbono no Brasil. McKinsey & Company, São PauloGoogle Scholar
  40. Moreira JR, Romeiro V, Fuss S, Kraxner F, Pacca S (2016) BECCS potential in Brazil: achieving negative emissions in ethanol and electricity production based on sugar cane bagasse and other residues. Appl Energy. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Morrison GM, Yeh S, Eggert AR, Yang C, Nelson JH, Greenblatt JB, Isaac R, Jacobson MZ, Johnston J, Kammen DM, Mileva A, Moore J, Roland-Holst DR, Wei M, Weyant JP, Williams JH, Williams R, Zapata CB (2015) Comparison of low-carbon pathways for California. Clim Chang 131(4):545–557. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Newell RG, Pizer WA, Raimi D (2013) Carbon markets 15 years after Kyoto: lessons learned, new challenges. J Econ Perspect 27:123–146. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pfister KF, Baader S, Baader M, Berndt S, Goossen LJ (2017) Biofuel by isomerizing metathesis of rapeseed oil esters with (bio) ethylene for use in contemporary diesel engines. Sci Adv 3:e1602624. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rahman SM, Spalding-Fecher R, Haites E, Kirkman GA (2018) The levelized costs of electricity generation by the CDM power projects. Energy 148:235–246. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rosa COCS, Costa KA, Christo ES, Bertahone PB (2017) Complementarity of hydro, photovoltaic, and wind power in Rio de Janeiro state. Sustainability 9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. São Paulo (2009) State Law n.13.798. Institui a Política Estadual de Mudanças Climáticas. Acessed 2 March 2018
  47. São Paulo (2016) Energy balance of the state of São Paulo 2016: year 2015. Secretaria de Energia, São PauloGoogle Scholar
  48. Scaramuzzo M (2017) Após quase ir à falência, Usiminas reage e aposta na recuperação da economia. O estado de S. Paulo, Economia & Negócios. December 04, 2017.,apos-quase-ir-a-falencia-usiminas-reage-e-aposta-na-recuperacao-da-economia,70002106612. Acessed 2 March 2018
  49. SEADE (n.d.) Sistema SEADE de projeções populacionais. Portal de estatísticas do Estado de São Paulo. Acessed 4 March 2018
  50. Socolow R, Pacala S (2004) Stabilization wedges: solving the climate problem for the next 50 years with current technologies. Science 305:968–972. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tagaeva TO, Gilmundinov VM, Kazantseva LK (2016) Ecological situation and environmental protection policy in Russian regions. Econ Region.
  52. UNFCCC (2016) CDM methodology booklet. Eighth edition. Accessed 3 March 2018
  53. UNFCCC (2017) ACM0017 large-scale consolidated methodology: production of biofuel. Version 03.1. Accessed 5 February 2018
  54. Van Vuuren DP, Stehfest E, Gernaat DEHJ, van den Berg M, Bijl DL, de Boer HS, Daioglou V, Doelman JC, Edelenbosch OY, Harmsen M, Hof AF, Van Sluisveld MAE (2018) Alternative pathways to the 1.5 degrees C target reduce the need for negative emission technologies. Nat Clim Chang. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wang K, Mao Y, Chen J, Yu S (2018) The optimal research and development portfolio of low-carbon energy technologies: a study of China. J Clean Prod 176:1065–1077. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Williams JH, De Benedictis A, Ghanadan R, Mahone A, Moore J, Morrow WR III, Price S, Tom MS (2012) The technology path to Deep greenhouse gas emissions cuts by 2050: the pivotal role of electricity. Science 335:53–59. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jhonathan Fernandes Torres de Souza
    • 1
  • Sergio Almeida Pacca
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate Program on SustainabilityUniversity of Sao PauloSão PauloBrazil

Personalised recommendations