EU maps out energy to 2050

17th January 2012

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European Commission roadmap plans to almost completely decarbonise energy generation to achieve 80% emissions cuts by 2050.

The commission’s Energy roadmap 2050 examines how EU member states can maintain a stable and affordable energy supply and lower carbon emissions, and concludes that decarbonisation is not only possible but should not cost more than taking no action at all.

It contains seven scenarios combining different mixes of renewable energy, nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and energy efficiency.

Irrespective of the energy mix chosen, there are a number of common elements in all the decarbonisation scenarios, including a growing demand for renewable energy and the crucial role of energy efficiency.

All the scenarios forecast that 30% of energy consumption by 2030 will be from renewables, rising to between 55%–75% by the middle of the century.

Energy commissioner Günther Oettinger said that he expects binding renewable-energy targets beyond 2020 to be in place by 2014.

The roadmap also highlights the need to reduce energy consumption by 2050 by a minimum of 32%, compared with the peak in 2005/06, while all scenarios show electricity will have to play a much greater role than now, almost doubling its share in final energy demand to 36–39% over the next 40 years.

The commission says the map will help member states make the required energy choices and create a stable business climate for private investment.

But the PRIMES energy model used by the commission to reach its conclusions has been criticised by the renewables industry.

“There are astounding assumptions in all scenarios such as oil prices dropping from over $100 per barrel today to $70 per barrel in 2050; offshore wind costing the same in 2050 as today; declining nuclear costs, and no gas or CCS infrastructure being needed in the next 40 years,” said Christian Kjaer, chief executive at the European Wind Energy Association.

“Despite these attempts to prefabricate the results, the scenarios confirm that a renewable-energy future comes at no higher energy cost to Europe. A high renewables and efficiency scenario would be the cheapest.”

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