Power

Facilitating the transition to a renewables-led energy system

Opportunity

The electricity power generating system is Europe’s single biggest CO2-emitting sector. If decarbonised, it has the potential to be the engine of a low-carbon economy. Without tackling power, Europe will not reach its climate goals. Therefore, decarbonisation of the European Union (EU) power system is a critical part of the mission of the European Climate Foundation (ECF).

Working closely with our efficiency and transport colleagues as an integrated energy team enables us to think about the decarbonisation of heat and the integration of variable renewables with electric vehicles. These are the types of synergies that reduce cost and drive systematic deep decarbonisation.

Success requires helping EU Member States to understand the kinds of policies that lead to stable prices, build the market and grid frameworks for a sustainable renewables industry, and – ultimately – build an electricity system that is reliable and predominantly powered by renewables.

Challenge

The ECF’s landmark Roadmap 2050 report shows that to reach 80-95% emissions reductions in 2050 across the European economy as a whole, the power sector will need to be decarbonised (95-100%). This requirement is based on the technical abatement potential within each sector (power, road transport, air and sea transport, industry, buildings, waste, agriculture and forestry) compared with baseline emission levels in 1990.

The ECF Power Programme aims to help decarbonise European electricity generation by 2050, by replacing unabated coal-fired power with renewables and flexible low-carbon back-up supplies. This requires policies that will encourage significant investments in new generation capacity and grids over the next two decades. At the same time, coal-fired power generation currently accounts for some 80% of emissions from the EU power sector. There is therefore a pressing need to systematically address both new and existing coal-fired power generation in order to deliver the EU’s long-term climate change goals.

Approach

  • The Energy Union Cluster. Following on from our ground-breaking “Roadmap 2050” project the challenge in Europe is how to make the Energy Union a policy and investment reality. Key organisations, such as Third Generation Environmentalism, the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, the Agora Energiewende and the Regulatory Assistance Project, help moving this project forward.
  • Agora Energiewende. In Germany, the ECF and the Mercator Foundation have created the Agora Energiewende – a forum for discussing and assessing the country’s transition to a high share of renewable energy resources.
  • Forum for Energy Analysis. Poland is at a cross-roads with a dramatically ageing generation fleet, high-level of dependence on coal and concern from citizens over air quality and pollution. The multi-partner forum for energy analysis (FAE) is working in dialogue with the energy sector to produce cross-cutting analysis to support carbon-resilient and cost-efficient pathways.

For more information, please contact power@europeanclimate.org.