To achieve the goal of cutting emissions by over 80% by 2050, Europe's energy production will have to be almost carbon-free. How to achieve this without disrupting energy supplies and competitiveness is the question answered by the Energy Road Map 2050 that the European Commission presented on 15 December.
Based on the analysis of a set of scenarios, the document describes the consequences of a carbon free energy system and the policy framework needed. This should allow member states to make the required energy choices and create a stable business climate for private investment, especially until 2030.
This is based on illustrative scenarios, created by combining in different ways the four main decarbonisation routes (energy efficiency, renewables, nuclear and CCS). None is likely to materialise but all scenarios clearly show a set of "no regrets" options for the coming years.
The Energy Road Map 2050 identifies a number of elements which have positive impacts in all circumstances, and thus define some key outcomes such as decarbonisation of the energy system is technically and economically feasible, energy efficiency and renewable energy are critical, early investments cost less, contain the increase of prices, and that economies of scale are needed
The aim of the road map is to achieve the low-carbon 2050 objectives while improving Europe's competitiveness and security of supply. Member states are already planning national energy policies for the future, but it is necessary to join forces in co-ordinating their efforts within a broader framework. The road map will be followed by further policy initiatives on specific energy policy areas in the coming years.
Energy production in Europe will be “virtually CO2 free” by 2050, according to Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who was speaking at the launch of the Energy Road Map 2050
The road map examines a set of scenarios that outline the policy framework needed to achieve a carbon-free energy system in the European Union, and which sets out Europe’s energy plan beyond the years 2020.
According to the commissioner, member states will now have to decide quickly how their particular energy mix will be in 2050. He said that the initial stage of the roadmap will take the form of a wide discussion, which will decide a set of interim targets for 2030. These, said the commissioner, should be decided by 2014.
“The new tasks and new targets that will be legally binding, we are working on this,” he said, adding that they “can be based on existing targets”. For 2030, he said, “we will have a realistic interim target, that is binding”. Discussions, he said, must be “done faster” than those which eventually led to the 202020 targets.
Oettinger said that discussions should not pre-empt any possible outcomes – right now, he said, the European was Commission is engaging in ongoing talks with the European Parliament, national parliaments, NGOs, the energy sector and more to wok out the best possible targets and methods. This, he said, would be done in the lifetime of the current Commission.
One of the main aims of the road map, he said, was the decarbonisation of the economy, which, he said, the Commission was working to make “both technically and economically feasible”. the also said that security of supply, sustainability and that energy, both for domestic and industrial consumption, continues to be affordable.
He also emphasised the need to create the conditions for investment in the energy market, in areas such as research and development and carbon capture and storage (CCS). For investors, he said, “it would be sensible to invest now”.