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Fossil-free energy systems in Europe are feasible by 2050


Building the infrastructure to decarbonise the EU’s energy system by 2050 through large amounts of green gas is projected to be up to 36% more expensive than through energy efficiency and smart electrification, even in European countries with a cold climate, according to “Towards fossil-free energy in 2050”, conducted by Element Energy and Cambridge Econometrics, and commissioned by the European Climate Foundation.

Nz2050 Fossil Free Energy A

The report finds that fossil-free energy systems in Europe by 2050 are feasible in different configurations and can come with benefits from a socio-economic point of view compared to a current policy baseline, including:

  • a 2.1% boost to EU GDP,
  • €23 billion savings on energy bills for European households,
  • 1.8 million additional jobs could be created by 2050. The report finds large structural shifts between sectors, away from fossil-fuel reliant industries towards electrical engineering and manufacturing. Efforts will need to be made to ensure workers are retrained for quality jobs in the growth sectors of the future.

The key is to unlock building renovations and smart electrification of road transport and heating sectors as these bring important benefits compared to passive and inefficient energy systems. This means :

  • a 54% reduction in thermal back-up needs,
  • renewables curtailment drops by 70% in total,
  • 22% lower infrastructure investment as building renovations reduce peak energy demand in buildings.

The report provides a practical guide to fossil-free energy systems by 2050 as part of the European Net Zero Economy goal.

The full energy system modelling results for the archetypes studied, as well as the cost assumptions used, are available for download below.

  • About the Net-Zero 2050 initiative

    The Net-Zero 2050 is a new initiative of the European Climate Foundation with contributions from a consortium of experts and organisations funded by the ECF.

    The objective of Net-Zero 2050 is to start building a vision and evidence base for the transition to net-zero emission societies in Europe and beyond, by midcentury at the latest. The Paris Agreement commits us to making this transition, and long-term strategic planning shows that many of the decisions and actions needed to get us on track must be taken without delay. Reports in the series seek to enhance understanding of the implications and opportunities of moving to climate neutrality across the power, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture, Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sectors; to shed light on some of the near-term choices and actions needed to reach this goal, and to provide a basis for discussion and engagement with stakeholders and policy-makers.

    With acknowledgement of the source, reproduction of all or part of the publication is authorised, except for commercial purposes.

    For more information, please contact Erica Hope (

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