Evaluating progress towards 100% renewable electricity

PwC, IIASA, PIK, SEFEP staff: Antonella Battaglini, May 2011

Motivated by concerns of climate change, energy security and economic development, the last twelve months have witnessed increasing attention in the European policy and business communities towards developing long-term renewable energy plans and targets. A number of organizations, drawing expertise from large consulting firms, leading scientific research institutes and universities, and civil society, have published reports demonstrating the economic and technical feasibility of achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2050.

One of the early reports, published in March 2010 by PwC with analytic support from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), demonstrated the feasibility in terms of policy and market development, by presenting a detailed roadmap template for moving from the current power system in Europe and North Africa to one relying only on renewable energy sources. An important insight from the PwC roadmap was that the transition to 100% renewable power could occur smoothly and without economic, political, or social disruption, but only if progress were to begin immediately across four key enabling areas – Government Policy, Market Structure, Infrastructure & Planning and investment.

This report, Measuring Progress towards 100% Renewable Electricity, assesses whether this immediate action has occurred, and whether the optimism of the last year around an ambitious transformation of the European and North African power system remains justified. The report contains two key findings. First, the events of the last year have been consistent with the pace of change that was required, and in some cases exceed expectations; they support continued optimism. Second, there is a need to reinforce the progress with increasing attention to regional coordination, longer term planning, and a particular emphasis on the frameworks within which international infrastructure projects can be developed and delivered.

The report’s authors base these findings on an analysis of eight major events and processes of the last twelve months:

          o Continued fallout from the global financial and debt crisis;
          o International climate change policy developments;
          o Regional renewable energy policies and initiatives;
          o Political events in North African and Arab countries;
          o New electricity policy developments from the European Commission;
          o New electricity policy developments from European member states and North African governments;
          o European public demonstrations over local infrastructure projects; and,
          o Global capacity expansions of renewable and conventional power generation and transmission.

To assess the impacts of these events on progress towards a 100% renewable electricity target, the authors appraise how each event has influenced long-term political leadership for the region, whether it has brought progress in transforming power markets, supported new investment, and eased planning and permitting challenges in ways consistent with long-term 100% renewable electricity target, and finally whether it has stimulated continued technological advances. The report should be informative for policy makers, and business leaders active in both renewable energy project development and finance.

Executive summary
Full report

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