Decisive action on climate change is needed to meet the goals set by the Paris agreement, and this requires a major shift to electricity in transport, buildings, and industry in the European Union (EU). This is the key finding of “Decarbonisation pathways,” a new study conducted by Eurelectric, the trade body of the European power sector, unveiled today at a press conference in Slovenia.
The study covers 100% of EU final-energy consumption and reveals a close connection between electrification and deep decarbonization. For the EU to reach 95% emissions reduction by 2050, electricity needs to cover at least 60% of final-energy consumption. This is achievable with a 1.5% year-on-year growth of EU electricity use while at the same time reducing the EU’s energy consumption by 1.3% per year.
“By leveraging on cost-effective renewables and developments in storage, electricity can lead to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across sectors, making the EU economy cleaner and more competitive. European institutions play a pivotal role in shaping policies around decarbonization, so urgent actions must be taken to promote the transition to a more electrified energy scenario,” said Francesco Starace, Eurelectric president and CEO of Enel.
Full EU decarbonization by 2050 would require an electrification share of 63% in transport and buildings, respectively, and 50% in industrial processes. Moreover, the study points out that different starting points across EU countries – in terms of energy mix, economic situation, and industrial activities – will require different pathways and efforts. In Poland, for example, deep decarbonization will depend heavily on the commercial availability of key transition technologies.
“Deep decarbonization will require unprecedented efforts. Political focus on shaping a fair transition and leaving room for regional nuances will be key to success,” said Kristian Ruby, secretary general of Eurelectric.
The analysis is the result of a comprehensive consultation process with electricity companies and industry representatives from across Europe and was carried out with analytical support from McKinsey & Company. It follows a vision declaration issued by the European power sector last December, in which it committed to work for an accelerated energy transition and pursue a fully carbon-neutral power sector well before 2050.
As a follow-up to the scenarios unveiled today, Eurelectric will examine a set of detailed pathways to reach full carbon-neutrality of the power sector well before 2050. The whole study will contribute to the debate over the long-term climate strategy for the EU.
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