EURELECTRIC POWER CHOICES 2050: Carbon-neutral electricity in Europe by 2050

Tuesday, 10 November 2009
imagee/noemissions.jpg “Carbon-neutral electricity in Europe by 2050 is attainable through the market system. For this to become reality, policymakers must support the carbon market so as to deliver the CO2 cap at least cost, work for an international agreement on climate change action, ensure that all sectors internalise the cost of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and enable the use of all low-carbon power technology options.

 However, the key to Europe’s low-carbon future will be on the demand side, where a paradigm shift is needed away from direct use of fossil fuels to energy-efficient electric systems - including electric road vehicles and electric heat pumps”, said EURELECTRIC President Lars G. Josefsson in Brussels today as he unveiled a new study - Power Choices: Pathways to Carbon-Neutral Electricity in Europe by 2050 - at the European Parliament.

Following a declaration signed in March by the Chief Executives of power companies representing over 70% of total electricity production in the EU, making a commitment to a carbon-neutral power sector by mid-century, the EURELECTRIC Power Choices study examines how this vision can become reality. It uses the PRIMES energy model developed and run by a team at Athens Technical University under Professor Pantelis Capros - also used by the European Commission for its energy scenario work - with data input from power plant association VGB, to examine scenarios to 2050.

The study develops scenarios for the EU-27 countries during the 1990-2050 period. The Baseline scenario assumes all existing policies are followed – notably, the current EU CO2 reduction targets are pursued beyond 2020, nuclear energy is phased out in those countries envisaging such a move, and electricity does not become a major transport fuel in the period to 2050.

The Power Choices scenario sets a 75% CO2 reduction target across the entire EU economy, and aims for an optimal power generation portfolio based on an integrated energy market. In this scenario, climate action becomes a priority and an international carbon market defines the price of CO2, which applies uniformly to all economic sectors; energy efficiency is pushed by specific policies and standards on the demand side, resulting in lower overall energy demand; and electricity becomes a major transport fuel as plug-in hybrid and electric cars are rolled out.

The scenario shows major CO2 reduction in the power sector from 2025 to 2040, and falling EU energy import dependency. The study results underline the vital need for policymakers to enable the use of all low-carbon technology options by ensuring substantial investment in renewable energy (RES), deployment of carbon capture & storage (CCS) technologies by 2020, new nuclear power plants, plus ‘smart’ networks, and also to encourage public acceptance of modern energy infrastructure and CO2-storage sites, and streamline their licensing procedures.

However, energy efficiency will be the major driver for the carbon-neutral Europe of tomorrow, the study indicates. Public authorities must therefore “take a leading role in energy efficiency, adopting standards and incentives to help consumers choose energy-efficient technologies in their domestic appliances, heating and cooling and road transport,” Mr Josefsson told MEPs gathered with EU officials, industry delegates, energy experts, green NGO representatives and stakeholders at the EURELECTRIC event in the Parliament building.

Hosting the event, Danish Social Democrat MEP Dan Jorgensen, who is Vice-Chairman of the Parliament’s Environment Committee, welcomed the EURELECTRIC initiative and called for timely action to drive forward deployment of green technologies. “Climate change is the most significant environment challenge of our era and it is clear that we will require a major drive for energy efficiency and renewable energy if we are to substantially reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. This study will help to focus minds on ways forward to a carbon-neutral European economy,” Mr Jorgensen told the audience.

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