Analysis of the EU's Energy Roadmap 2050 scenarios

SEFEP staff: Antonella Battaglini, May 2012

Energy scenarios are seen as a helpful tool to guide and inform these discussions. Several scenario studies on the European energy system have been released in recent years by stakeholders like environmental NGOs and industry associations. A number of these studies have recently been analysed by the Öko-Institut and the Wuppertal Institute within an ongoing project, the "metastudy", commissioned by the Smart Energy for Europe Platform (more info here). The project aims to advance the debate on the decarbonisation of the energy system in the EU as well as its Member States during the course of 2012 and to make contributions to the scientific literature on this topic. Analysis within the project focuses on the development of the electricity system, as this system today is the main source for CO2 emissions and is widely regarded to be the key to any future decarbonisation pathway.

This paper summarises the analyses accomplished based on scenarios developed within the recently released Energy Roadmap 2050 of the European Union. The Roadmap explores different energy system pathways, which are compatible with the EU’s long-term climate targets. It is a highly influential publication and will play a significant role in determining what will follow the EU’s 2020 energy agenda. The Roadmap’s analysis is currently discussed by EU and Member States policymakers as well as by stakeholders throughout Europe. Consequently it was a logical step within the SEFEP funded project to take a closer look at the seven different scenarios developed within the EU’s Energy Roadmap 2050. As in the previous analysis of earlier energy scenario studies (SEFEP 2012) the main tool used to analyse and compare the scenarios is a decomposition method applied to show the extent to which technologies and strategies contribute to CO2 emission reductions in the respective scenarios.
The results of the Energy Roadmap 2050 analysis mirror many of the project’s earlier findings from other scenario studies: Renewable energy technologies are the most important supply-side element in the electricity sector for ambitious decarbonisation within the next four decades and wind will be the major contributor within the renewables. At the same time considerable energy efficiency improvements compared to a reference development are needed to limit growth in electricity demand and to simultaneously enable a significant amount of electricity to be used in the transportation sector to help reduce CO2 emissions in that sector. The scenarios also indicate that CCS can be an important mitigation technology within the European electricity system, but that its future availability and public acceptance is limited and its importance for successful decarbonisation can be considerably reduced if a strong deployment of renewables can be achieved in the future.

The working paper can be downloaded here.

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