Table of contents

2.2.2. European policy targets and energy scenarios

This subsection gives an overview of how the required transition in the energy system is rooted and reflected in European policies, and how these policies frame the need for energy system adaptation now and in the future. Relevant EU policies are presented in more detail in Section 4.2.1.

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Binding EU climate and energy targets

EU climate policy over the last decade has been guided by the 2020 climate and energy package. This represents an aggregation of binding legislation to ensure the EU meets its energy and climate targets for 2020, namely reaching a 20 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels), a 20 % share of renewable energy sources, and a 20 % improvement in energy efficiency (EC, 2010a).

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These targets have been further developed in the 2030 climate and energy framework, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 %, to increase the share of RES to at least 27 % and to increase energy efficiency by 27 % by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. These targets have since been reviewed, and a political agreement has been reached between the European Parliament, Commission and Council, with revised targets of 32 % for RES and 32.5% for energy efficiency (see Figure 2‑7) (EU, 2018a).

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Figure 2‑7 Quantitative targets of the EU Energy Union

Source: Adapted from (EC, 2017g), based on (EU, 2018a).

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Introduction to European energy scenarios

The remainder of this section provides a brief summary of the most relevant European energy scenarios. These scenarios are driven by technological, economic and policy developments. The aim is not to give a comprehensive overview of this extensive topic, but to provide some indication what the implications of these scenarios are for adaptation and climate resilience.

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There scenarios discussed here differ largely in their geographical and temporal scope. There are also important differences in terms of the feasibility perspectives of key technologies such as carbon capture sequestration and use, hydrogen, electric mobility, and in terms of the level of ambition of the decarbonisation scenarios. Despite differences, all available scenarios agree that achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement requires (1) a highly decarbonized electricity generation sector, (2) the preponderance of renewables in the energy mix, (3) the electrification of most energy uses, primarily transportation, and (4) the key role of energy efficiency.

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EU Reference Scenario

[Note: Check availability of revised EU reference scenario before final editing of this report.]

At present the main EU energy scenario is the 2016 reference scenario (EC, 2016g), which is built to meet binding energy and climate targets to 2020, based on the existing policies at the time of its publication. It shows that neither the 2020 energy efficiency target nor the 2030 and 2050 targets of the EU Energy Roadmap 2050 (EC, 2011b) could be achieved within that policy setting. As part of the impact assessment of the 2030 EU climate and energy strategy (agreed by the European Council in 2014), two core policy scenarios (EUCO27 and EUCO30) were developed that modelled the achievement of two different energy efficiency targets by 2030. Furthermore, as part of the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive in 2016, the EC developed the EUCO+ scenarios, which achieve energy efficiency targets of greater than 30 % (EC, 2016d). Given the latest political agreement for targets of 32 % for renewables and 32.5 % for energy efficiency, these EUCO+ scenarios may represent the most appropriate insight currently available into potential changes in the EU energy system up to 2030.

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EUCO+ scenarios

The EUCO+ assessment includes multiple scenarios consistent with different combinations of energy efficiency and renewable energy targets for 2030 (EC, 2016d). These scenarios model the impact of more ambitious energy policy targets through strengthening of current policies and development of new policies. Compared to the 2016 reference scenario, the EUCO+33 scenario has a moderately lower energy consumption, a moderately higher use of renewables in heating and cooling and in electricity, and a significantly higher share of electric vehicles.

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The EU long-term strategy ‘A Clean Planet for All‘

The EU long-term strategy ‘A Clean Planet for All’ published in November 2018 puts forward a vision to steer the EU economy and society towards a (largely) CO2 emissions-free future in 2050. According to the EC, the strategy shows how Europe can lead the way to climate neutrality by investing into realistic technological solutions, empowering citizens, and aligning action in key areas such as industrial policy, finance, or research – while ensuring social fairness for a just transition. The strategy covers seven strategic areas, proposing joint action in each of these areas: energy efficiency; deployment of renewables; clean, safe and connected mobility; competitive industry and circular economy; infrastructure and interconnections; bio-economy and natural carbon sinks; carbon capture and storage to address remaining emissions. The EC invites all EU institutions, the national parliaments, business sector, non-governmental organisations, cities and communities, as well as citizens to participate in an EU-wide informed debate on the strategy. This should allow the EU to adopt and submit an ambitious strategy by early 2020 to the UNFCCC as requested under the Paris Agreement.

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The long-term strategy is based on eight decarbonisation pathways, which were all developed as departure from the same Baseline scenario (EC, 2018j, 2018r). Table 2‑1 summarises the main features of these scenarios. They cover key features of the energy system (supply, demand, prices and investments) and all GHG emissions for the period up to 2050 (or even 2070) for all EU Member States, candidate countries, Norway, Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Table 2‑1 Overview of the scenarios from the EU long-term strategy ‘A Clean Planet for All’

Source: (EC, 2018r)

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The Baseline is largely built on the 2016 Reference Scenario. However, it assumes the achievement of the latest energy and climate 2030 targets. It also incorporates several policy proposals in the field of energy, transport and Land use, Land-use Change and Forests (LULUCF), and an update on the prospects of relevant technologies. The scenario assessment encompasses three categories of pathways: the first one includes five pathways that rely on a wide menu of measures, each one exploring different technological options. Three of these scenarios are driven by the different emphasis on alternate decarbonised energy carriers (electrification, hydrogen or e-fuels), while the remaining two scenarios focus upon demand-side measures (enhanced energy efficiency or enhanced circular economy). All these scenarios attain at best an 80 % emission reduction by 2050 (compared to 1990). The second category includes the sixth pathway only. This pathway combines all the options considered in the previous five decarbonisation scenarios and reaches a 90 % emission reduction, which is compatible with a ‘well below 2 °C’ trajectory of global mean temperature increase by the end of the century. The unavoidability of residual GHG emissions from the agricultural sector prevents full decarbonisation (which is necessary for a 1.5 °C trajectory) in the absence of measures to achieve negative emissions. The last category of pathways (7th and 8th scenario) explore possible solutions to push the system towards full decarbonisation. They put the emphasis on negative emission technologies and on sustainable lifestyles, respectively, whereby the latter entails a paradigm shift in consumers’ choices and a stronger circularity of the EU economy. The shift towards an increasingly decarbonized future is present in all eight scenarios, but it is most prominent in the last three. All scenarios also assume a marked increase in energy efficiency.

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The main aggregate outcomes for the energy sector in the eight decarbonisation scenarios are depicted in Figure 2‑8, Figure 2‑9 and Figure 2‑10. The prominent role of renewables is apparent in Figure 2‑8, which also highlights the significant role of nuclear and the impossibility of a full elimination of fossil fuels. Figure 2‑9 points to residential and transport as the uses responsible for the largest cuts in final energy consumption in all decarbonizing scenarios. Finally, the importance of a widespread electrification of energy uses scenario is highlighted in Figure 2‑10, which also points to a virtual extinction of solid fossil fuels, to a significant contribution of biomass, and of hydrogen in the most decarbonized scenarios.

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Figure 2‑8. Gross inland consumption of primary energy

Source: (EC, 2018r)

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Figure 2‑9 Changes in final energy consumption by sector

Source: (EC, 2018r)

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Figure 2‑10 Share of energy carriers in final energy consumption

Source: (EC, 2018r)

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TYNDP scenarios

The European Network of Transmission System Operators – Electricity and Gas (ENTSO-E and ENTSO-G), have jointly produced a Ten Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) 2018 scenario report (ENTSOs, 2018). This report presents three scenarios based on the EUCO30 policy scenario (as the EUCO+33 scenario, but with only a 30 % energy efficiency target). These scenarios model the energy system through to 2040, with a focus on the technical feasibility of the changes. The main scenarios and their characteristics are:

  1. Sustainable Transitions – assuming more ambitious energy efficiency regulation, increased prices in the EU-ETS and reduced fossil energy subsidies.
  2. Distributed Generation – with a focus on growth in the contribution to energy supply from prosumers (see Section 4.1.2), decentralised small-scale generation (primarily solar PV), batteries and fuel switching (including heat pumps).
  3. Global Climate Action – based on full scale global action, encouraging enhanced EU action, especially high growth of renewable energies in the electricity and gas sectors

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Both the Distributed Generation and Global Climate Action scenarios foresee a role for bio-methane and power-to-gas in gas supply, although in both cases this remains small by 2040. The modelling in the scenarios included the impact of climate change on renewable energy power generation and demand based on three climate scenarios for Europe.

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REmap scenario

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has also carried out modelling and scenario work of the EU energy system with a view to accelerate the deployment of renewables (IRENA, 2018b). This REmap analysis concludes that the EU can double the share of renewables in its energy mix from 17 % in 2015 to 34 % in 2030, through a combination of cost-effective options. In the REmap scenario, the share of RES in the power sector would rise to 50 % by 2030 (compared to 29 % in 2015), while in end-use sectors RES would account for shares of 42 % in buildings, 36 % in industry and 17 % in transport. Biomass plays a key role in the REmap scenario, which foresees a doubling of biomass consumption from today’s levels by 2030.

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Figure 2‑11 Renewable energy options in the REmap scenario

Source: (IRENA, 2018b)

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