Drivers and implications of alternative routes to fuels decarbonization in net-zero energy systems

Bryan K. Mignone, Leon Clarke, James A. Edmonds, Angelo Gurgel, Howard J. Herzog, Jeremiah X. Johnson, Dharik S. Mallapragada, Haewon McJeon, Jennifer Morris, Patrick R. O’Rourke, Sergey Paltsev, Steven K. Rose, Daniel C. Steinberg, Aranya Venkatesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Energy transition scenarios are characterized by increasing electrification and improving efficiency of energy end uses, rapid decarbonization of the electric power sector, and deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies to offset remaining emissions. Although hydrocarbon fuels typically decline in such scenarios, significant volumes remain in many scenarios even at the time of net-zero emissions. While scenarios rely on different approaches for decarbonizing remaining fuels, the underlying drivers for these differences are unclear. Here we develop several illustrative net-zero systems in a simple structural energy model and show that, for a given set of final energy demands, assumptions about the use of biomass and CO2 sequestration drive key differences in how emissions from remaining fuels are mitigated. Limiting one resource may increase reliance on another, implying that decisions about using or restricting resources in pursuit of net-zero objectives could have significant tradeoffs that will need to be evaluated and managed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3938
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy

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