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Project

Fraunhofer-Institut für
System- und Innovationsforschung ISI

Optimized pathways towards ambitious climate protection in the European electricity system

EU Long-term scenarios 2050 II

Financed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.
Part of the RWTH Aachen study “Required investments into the European energy infrastructure in the light of climate aspects”.

Scope of the study

This study investigates concrete and realizable pathways towards a European electricity sector in line with the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C. It uses scenario analysis to examine the development of the electricity sector in the EU 27, Norway and Switzerland up to the year 2050. The study is carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI for the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. It provides additional scenarios to the previous study “Tangible ways towards climate protection in the European Union”, published in 2011. The results of the scenarios function as input data for a comprehensive grid study “Required investments into the European energy infrastructure in the light of climate aspects” conducted by the RWTH Aachen and funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

Focus

The scenario analysis focuses on three major aspects:
First of all, it provides a detailed picture of possible technology pathways in the electricity sector characterized by low carbon emissions and different levels of electricity demand. Therefore a cap of 75 Mt is applied to the average annual CO2 emissions in 2050, equivalent to a 95% reduction compared to 1990 levels in all three scenarios. In contrast to the previous study published in 2011, the technology mix includes CCS and nuclear as additional decarbonisation options. The analysis is carried out using a least cost approach and modelling the entire time frame 2020-2050 in steps of 10 years.
Secondly, the study analyzes the impacts of increased efficiency when consuming electricity on the required infrastructure, the electricity supply structure and the cost of the system. Scenario D “Moderate Demand” is based on the electricity demand of the TRANS-CSP study (DLR 2006) and projects a moderate demand development in Europe. In addition, a scenario with higher electricity demand is calculated, which is based on the demand level in Scenario 3 (“Diversified supply technologies scenario”) of the Energy Roadmap 2050 published by the European Commission in 2011 (European Commission 2011).
In a third step, the impact of changed public acceptance of land use for renewable energy is analyzed based on the example of onshore wind. Increased land use for onshore wind is applied in Scenario E and a 15 GW restriction on German offshore wind capacity is enforced in the model.

Main findings

The study shows that ambitious CO2 reduction in the European electricity sector can be achieved at moderate costs. Increased efforts targeting higher efficiency in electricity consumption are important, because lower demand reduces the cost of electricity supply to a considerable extent. This also implies a reduced need for sometimes contested infrastructures such as power lines and electricity generation facilities. Another central finding is that greater acceptance of onshore wind can help to reduce the total cost of power supply. As CO2 targets become more ambitious over time and trigger a strong growth in renewable electricity generation, grid infrastructure will need to be  extended.

Publications

© 2017 Fraunhofer ISI