2050 Power system decarbonization visions: A metastudy

Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology), Wupperal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, SEFEP staff: Antonella Battaglini, 2011-2012

The existing modelling exercises underline that all sectors must contribute to massive cuts of greenhouse gas emission. On the other hand, the power sector is the key sector for decarbonisation strategies with regard to two major aspects as in many industrialised countries the power sector represents the largest single source for greenhouse gas emissions:

- the decarbonisation of the power system is a prerequisite for effective emission reduction strategies in other sectors (transport sector, industrial sector, heating sector)

- the power sector is characterised by extremely long-living capital stocks and significant lead times for transitional changes (e.g. with regard to infrastructure)

The European Union as a traditional driver and front-runner of climate policy is facing a key debate during the year 2011 and beyond. The European Commission will present analytical work on a longer-term energy and climate strategy of the European Union in Spring 2011 and in an extensive process among the European institutions and the Member States will work on a ‘Roadmap 2050’ during the year 2011.

The analytical work on longer-term energy and climate policy strategies and the transition towards a near zero carbon economy does not start from scratch. In the last few years, a number of studies concerning pathways for very far reaching decarbonisation of the European power system were published. These studies, which have had a considerable impact on both climate and energy policy and on the energy debate in general, are part of a trend and constitute a clear deviation from the old, fossil-fuel energy paradigm: they all conclude that it is technically possible and probably even economically acceptable to decarbonise the European power sector by 80-100% by 2050 using largely, or exclusively, electricity from renewable sources.

If the European debates of 2011 shall be based on robust evidence from modelling exercises and other analytical work it could be useful to analyse the existing and emerging analytical work on decarbonisation strategies for the power sector with a meta-study approach. The purpose of this meta-study is:

- to identify similarities and robust elements of decarbonisation strategies for the power sector (technical structures, costs, etc)

- to identify key differences and their determinants (input data, modelling approaches, etc)

- to identify key issues on implementation

The project is based on a dynamic approach to integrate analytical work which will become available during the course of 2011. 
The overarching goal of the proposed project is to make analytical contributions to the debate on the EU’s 30% greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2020 as well as the definition of accountable longer-term targets, e.g. for 2050.


-- The metastudy full report can be found here and the individual working packages here.

-- A policy briefing paper is available here.

-- Two working papers: Decarbonisation Scenarios leading to the EU Energy Roadmap 2050 and Analysis of the EU's Energy Roadmap 2050 scenarios.

-- A common roster of scenario data and information is available here. This roster can be made use of in modelling exercices to improve data transparency and availability.

-- The metastudy's presentation slides are available here.

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