TODAY’S STUDY: 100% New Energy Can Cut EU Power Bills
GLOBAL ENERGY SYSTEM BASED ON 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY; Energy Transition in Europe Across Power, Heat, Transport and Desalination Sectors
Manish Ram, Hans-Josef Fell, et. al., December 2018 (Energy Watch Group and LUT University)
In Europe, a full transition to 100% renewable energy across all sectors – power, heat, transport and desalination is feasible1 . Existing renewable energy potential and technologies, including storage, can generate sufficient and secure energy supply at every hour throughout the year. The sustainable energy system would be more cost effective than the existing system, which is primarily based on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The energy transition is not a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but one of political will.
Electrification across all energy sectors is inevitable, and is more resource efficient than the current system. Electricity generation in 2050 will exceed 4-5 times that in 2015, due to the high electrification rates of the transport and heat sectors. Fuel consumption is reduced by more than 90% from 2015 numbers (see Figure KF-1), as fossil fuels are phased out completely. Electricity will constitute more than 85% of the primary energy demand in 2050.
Electricity generation in the 100% renewable energy system will consist of a mix of power sources, with solar PV generating 62% of electricity followed by wind energy (32%), hydropower (4%), bioenergy (2%) and geothermal energy (<1%). Wind and solar make up 94% of total electricity supply by 2050 and will have a synergetic balancing effect (see Figure KF-1).
Approximately 85% of the renewable energy supply will come from local and regional generation, with much of it being decentralised. Additionally, electric heat pumps, thermal energy storage, and other heating technologies will play a vital role in meeting the heat demand across Europe. In the transport sector, electric vehicles with batteries, plug-in hybrids and fuel cells will cover road transport energy demand, whereas the marine and aviation demand will be covered by a combination of synthetic fuels, such as hydrogen, renewables-based liquefied natural gas and Fischer-Tropsch fuels complemented with lowcost electricity. Also, biofuels, produced in a sustainable way, play a small but important role in the transport sector.
100% renewable energy is not more expensive than the current European energy system.
• The levelised cost of energy for a fully sustainable energy system in Europe remains stable through the transition from 2015 to 2050, ranging from 50-60 €/MWh (see Figure KF-2).
• The levelised cost of electricity decreases substantially from around 80 €/MWh in 2015 to around 57 €/MWh by 2050, while the levelised cost of heat increases marginally from around 41 €/MWh in 2015 to around 47 €/MWh by 2030 and further declines to around 43 €/MWh by 2050.
• Final transport passenger costs decline for road transport and remain stable for aviation through the transition, whereas there is a marginal increase in costs for marine transport.
Europe can achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, or sooner, across all energy sectors
• Europe’s annual greenhouse gas emissions decline steadily through the transition from about 4200 MtCO2eq in 2015 to zero by 2050 (see Figure KF-3). The resulting cumulative greenhouse gas emissions are approximately 85 GtCO2eq from 2016-2050, and would support the EU’s goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial level
• In contrast to popular claims, a deep decarbonisation of the power and heat sectors is possible by 2030 in Europe. The transport sector will lag behind, with a massive decline of greenhouse gas emissions from 2030 to 2050 (see Figure KF-3).
100% renewable energy system in Europe will support millions of local jobs in the power sector
• In 2015, the European power sector employed approximately 2 million people, with approximately half in the fossil fuel sector (see Figure KF-3).
• A 100% renewable power system would employ 3 to 3.5 million people and solar PV emerges as the major job creating industry, employing about 1.7 million in 2050.
• The approximate 800,000 jobs in the European coal industry of 2015 will be decreased to zero by 2050 and will be overcompensated by more than 1.5 million new jobs in the renewable energy sector.
Europe’s renewable energy generation and storage capacities will improve efficiencies a0nd create energy independence
• With 94% of renewable electricity generation coming from solar and wind energy by 2050, and a significant amount local generation, the system is more efficient.
• Energy storage will meet nearly 17% of electricity demand and around 20% of heat demand. Batteries will emerge as the most relevant electricity storage technology and thermal energy storage emerges as the most relevant heat storage technology by 2050. Electric heat pumps will also play a significant role, generating more than 30% of heat on district and individual levels by 2050 (see Figure KF-4).
• Through localised renewable energy generation, grid exchange, and storage, Europe is capable of having a highly efficient and self-reliant energy system.
To ensure a smooth, fast and cost-effective transition to 100% renewable energy across all sectors, governments need to adopt national legislative acts that will ensure the swift uptake and development of renewable energy and storage technologies, sector coupling and smart energy systems. The following key political support measures will accelerate the energy transition:
• Policies and instruments focused on sector coupling and enabling direct private investment in renewable energy and other zero emission technologies (e.g. Feed-in Tariff laws).
• Tax exemptions, direct subsidies and legal privileges for renewable energy technologies.
• A phase-out of all state subsidies to fossil fuel and nuclear energy generation, and introduction of carbon and radioactivity taxes.
• Promotion of cogeneration power.
• Policies and frameworks that promote research and education on renewable energy and zero emission technologies.
This study presents a technically feasible and economically viable energy pathway for Europe, in which the energy sector (comprising power, heat, transport, and desalination) can reach 100% renewable energy and zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The primary energy demand decreases from 21,000 TWh in 2015 to around 20,000 TWh by 2050, driven by massive gains in energy efficiency with a high level of electrification of more than 85% in 2050. Solar PV and wind energy emerge as the most prominent electricity supply sources with around 62% and 32% respectively of the total electricity supply by 2050. Heat pumps play a significant role in the heat sector with a share of nearly 50% of heat generation by 2050. Batteries emerge as the key storage technology with around 83% of total electricity storage output. Fuel conversion technologies such as Fischer-Tropsch, water electrolysis, methanation, and others supply renewable-based fuels along with electrification to ensure a 100% renewable energy-based transport sector across Europe. The levelised cost of energy for a fully sustainable energy system across Europe remains stable at around €50-55/MWh through the transition from 2015-2050. While, the annual energy costs are in the range of €900-1,100 billion through the transition, with cumulative investments of around €9,760 billion up to 2050. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced from about 4,300 megatonnes CO2 equivalent (MtCO2 eq.) in 2015 to zero by 2050, with cumulative greenhouse gas emissions of around 85 gigatonnes CO2 equivalent (GtCO2 eq.). Additionally, around 3.5 million direct energy jobs are created annually in 2050 across just the power sector in Europe. Consequently, a 100% renewable energy system across the power, heat, transport, and desalination sectors in Europe is more efficient and cost competitive than a fossil fuel-based option, and most importantly compatible with the Paris Agreement…
Solar PV and wind energy are the leading sources of electricity generation complemented by battery storage, which are driven by increasing demand and rapidly declining costs across Europe. The shift in generation types from the conventional (fossil and nuclear) energy system to more sustainable renewable energy system through the transition will affect the entire energy industry – generation and production of energy, system operations across the different energy sectors, transmission and distribution of energy. This report presents a radical transformation of the entire energy sector across Europe in evolutionary steps, which encompasses power generation through various renewable electricity generation technologies; heat generation through various renewable heat generation technologies including heat management systems; enhanced system operations through storage technologies for electricity, heat and sustainable fuels; enhanced sector coupling and flexibility through integration of power and heat technologies; transformation of the transport sector through increased utilisation of renewable electricity, renewable energy based fuels and sustainable biofuels; ensuring sustainable water supply with renewable electricity and storage technologies. Furthermore, achieving zero GHG emissions from harder-to-abate sectors such as heavy industry and heavy-duty transport is neither a technical nor an economical challenge anymore10. This report has presented a technically feasible and economically viable pathway for a rapid transition of the entire energy system across Europe, aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, this crucial and prudent energy transition will not be achieved unless policymakers, businesses and civil society jointly take immediate and forceful actions to transform the energyeconomic systems across Europe as well as globally…