Q&A on Energy Roadmap 2050
Why is there a need for the Roadmap 2050?
The EU has set itself the goal to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions to 80%-95% below 1990
levels by 2050. The Roadmap explores how this
goal can be achieved while at the same time
improving the competitiveness and the security
Rather than presenting one strategic option, it
describes seven different scenarios. Every
scenario is based on a different energy mix,
combing varying shares of renewables and the
importance given to energy efficiency and new
technologies such as CCS. By describing these
scenarios and also their impact on costs and
prices, it should help Member States to make the
necessary policy choices.
Each country is responsible for its own energy
choices. But they must be integrated in the
overall context and take into account the
potential consequences on its neighbours.
Why is there a need to start now a discussion
Member States have to start now to debate how
their energy mix will look like in 2050 and
create a stable business investment for private
investors. If the political choices are not
made, there is uncertainty and much needed
investments will be delayed. In the energy
sector, investments are made for a period
between 20 and 60 years.
What are the key outcomes?
Irrespective of the particular energy mix
chosen, there are a number of common elements in
all decarbonisation scenarios:
1) The demand for renewable energy will grow
2) Energy savings will be crucial
3) The role for electricity will increase
4) Capital investments will increase
5) The fossil fuel bill will decrease.
What is a scenario and which ones have been
chosen for the analysis?
A scenario is a tool to assess the effects of
policy options, created by changing many
variables simultaneously and presenting the
The Commission, after extensive discussions with
stakeholders, has identified four main
decarbonisation routes for the energy sector –
energy efficiency impacting mostly on the demand
side and on the supply side renewable, nuclear
and CCS. The scenarios proposed explore
different combinations of this four
decarbonisation paths interacting:
two current trend scenarios: the reference
scenario and an updated version including
current policy initiatives. This latter scenario
serves as the basis of all decarbonisation
a high energy efficiency, where there is a
commitment to very high energy savings, leading
to a 41% decrease in energy demand by 2050
compared to the 2005-2006 peaks;
diversified supply technologies, in which all
energy sources compete on a market basis with no
specific support measures;
high renewable energy sources (RES), with strong
support measures for RES resulting in a RES
share amounting to 75% in gross final energy
consumption, and to 97% in electricity
a delayed Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) with
the share of nuclear energy in primary energy
consumption amounting to 18%;
and a low nuclear with higher shares of CCS,
around 32% in power generation.
What role has gas in the transition?
Gas will be critical for the transformation of
the energy system. Substitution of coal (and
oil) with gas in the short to medium term could
help to reduce emissions with existing
technologies until at least 2030 or 2035. Gas
will stay high in sectors such as the power
sector over a longer period. In the Diversified
Supply Technologies scenario for example,
gas-fired power generation accounts for roughly
800 TWh in 2050, slightly higher than current
What role has nuclear in the Roadmap 2050?
The EU Commission and the Roadmap 2050 is
neutral on the question whether or not Member
States should use nuclear power. It does not
give a recommendation or a forecast on the
future development of nuclear energy in Europe.
One scenario assumes that nuclear policy is
almost zero (This is based on the assumption
that only those nuclear power plants which are
currently under construction are used in 2050,
while existing ones will have come to the end of
their life time and will not be replaced). Under
this scenario, nuclear makes amounts to less
than 3 percent of primary energy consumption
(currently it is 14%).
Another scenario looks at the effect a delayed
implementation of CCS has on the energy mix.
This technology allows capturing and storing CO2
emissions from gas and coal power stations. If
this technology will not be fully exploited in
the Member States, it is assumed that nuclear
power will play a bigger role. This would result
in almost the same share of energy consumption
in 2050 as in 2005 (18 % versus 14%). Depending
on Member States' decisions, the share of
nuclear could of course be higher.
What role has energy efficiency and renewable
Renewables move centre stage. The share of
renewable energy (RES) rises substantially in
all decarbonisation scenarios, achieving at
least 55% in gross final energy consumption in
2050 up 45 percentage points from today's level
at around 10%. The share of Renewables in
electricity consumption reaches 64,8 % in a High
Energy Efficiency scenario and even 97% in a
High Renewables Scenario.
The Energy Roadmap 2050 is also ambitious when
it comes to energy efficiency: It shows that we
need to reduce energy consumption by 2050 by a
minimum of 32 percent to maximum of 41 percent
compared to the peak in 2005/2006, according to
the different scenarios.
Investments cost a lot of money. Is it not
cheaper if we forget about decarbonisation?
The analysis shows that costs will rise anyway
and will be roughly at the same level as if we
were not to do anything. If we continue current
policies, the total energy system cost -
including fuel, electricity and capital costs,
investment in equipment, energy efficient
products - could represent 14.6% percent of
European GDP in 2050 (compared to 10,5% in
If we continue with current policies, we may not
have to invest as heavily in infrastructure as
in the decarbonisation scenarios (high
efficiency, high renewable, delayed CCS, low
nuclear and diversified supply technologies),
but we the face higher fossil fuel costs as gas
and petrol prices are estimated to rise due to
an increase in world wide demand. By contrast,
in the case of the decarbonisation scenarios
higher upfront investment is needed but less
What contribution will be provided by the EU
More than ever should the full scale of the
internal market be used. Electricity and gas
markets are increasingly connected, allowing to
trade energy easily across borders. This helps
to ensure that electricity is produced where it
is most economical.
A new challenge is the need for flexible
resources in the power system as there are more
variable renewables in the system. Access to
flexible supplies of all types (e.g. demand
management, storage and flexible back-up power
plants) can be best delivered in a
well-connected and well-functioning internal
energy market. It helps to use resources
efficiently across Europe. For example, with
sufficient interconnection capacity and a
smarter grid, managing the variations of wind
and solar power in some local areas can be
provided also from other sources (e.g.
renewables, storage or back-up power plants)
elsewhere in Europe.
Energy policy developments need to take full
account of how each national electricity system
is affected by decisions in neighbouring
countries. Now more than ever, coordination is
required. Working together will keep cost down
and ensure security of supply.
Which other EU policies are expected to play a
First, new and flexible infrastructure
development is a "no regrets" option and could
accommodate various pathways of different Member
States. An overall increase of interconnection
capacity by 40% up to 2020 will be needed, with
further integration after this point.
Second, much depends on the acceleration of
technological development. New technologies
bring new options in the future. Technological
progress can yield significant cost reductions
and economic benefits.
Third, the social dimension of the energy
roadmap is important. The transition will affect
employment and jobs, requiring education and
training and a more vigorous social dialogue.
For example, we need to ensure that we have
Is it true that investments are cheaper if we
make them now and at European level?
Yes. If investments are postponed, they will
cost more and create greater disruption in the
longer term. For every US Dollar of investment
not made in the power sector before 2020, an
additional US 4,3 would need to be spent after
2020 to compensate for increased emission, the
IAE says in is 2011 World Energy Outlook.
For Europe, the Commission already analysed in
its "Roadmap to a competitive low-carbon
economy" (March 8, 2011) the following absolute
figures: Investment expenditure increases by
around Euro 100 bn per annum for the 20 year
period from 2030 – 2050, without comparably
decreasing the investment before 2030.
The Commission has not undertaken a
counter-factual modelling comparing a Member
State by Member State approach with an EU
approach. Some stakeholders1 show however that
the cost-efficient deployment of renewables
across Europe can reduce cumulative costs by
more than a fifth by 2030 compared to a Member
State by Member State approach.
Why are electricity prices rising? Are they
rising only for renewables?
Electricity prices will rise in the next decades
in any case, regardless if we continue with our
actual energy policy or go for decarbonisation.
If we stick to our current energy mix, we will
face higher electricity prices due to increases
in fossil fuel prices (gas, coal and oil). This
is because world wide demand is increasing,
especially in Asian countries such as China.
If we opt instead for any decarbonisation
scenarios (high efficiency, high renewable,
delayed CCS, low nuclear and diversified supply
technologies), electricity prices rise because
we have to invest heavily in new infrastructure
Why are electricity prices raising until
2030? And then decreasing or stabilizing?
They rise until 2030 because capital, grid and
fuel costs rise and auctioning payments will
increase. Until that year, the increase of
electricity prices is roughly the same in all
scenarios, regardless whether we stick to our
current energy mix or go for decarbonisation,
e.g. high renewable share.
After 2030, electricity prices stabilize or
decrease under the decarbonisation scenarios.
This is because less operational costs are
needed for electricity production which in turn
has a positive impact of prices. These
operational costs include ETS allowances and
In the case of renewables, the modelled
investment needs beyond 2030 are higher than in
the case of the others scenarios. This is due to
this scenario being a somewhat extreme "near
100% renewable power" scenario which comprises
assumptions about very increased storage needs,
extension of the grid and back up facilities
such as gas power stations. Most of these
investments will come after 2030 due to the
sharp increase of renewables in the same period
of time. This means also higher electricity
prices for this particular scenario, but
substantial RES penetration in itself does not
necessarily mean high electricity prices. Some
of these costs are attributable to conventional
power plants built prior to 2030 which are
assumed to need to recover their investment
costs fully despite not running at close to full
capacity due to the subsequent renewables
What would be the benefits of these changes?
The energy system transformation will drive
growth and employment in a wide range of
sectors, from construction, renewable energy,
power generation and transmission, energy
efficient appliances and vehicles, and has the
side-benefit of a reduced external fuel bill.
Additionally, the transformation will make
Europe less dependent on external energy
supplies. It is up to Europe to ensure a strong
industrial base ready to take advantage of these
How does the Roadmap assess the trade-off
between climate change policies and
Investments in energy efficiency and new
technologies pay off in the long run, reduce the
fuel bill and place Europe at the forefront of
innovation. Industry must focus on these medium
to long-term opportunities and not on short-term
costs. Of course, there can be tradeoffs as well
as synergies between sustainability and
competitiveness. Hence the importance of the
emissions trading Directive's existing measures
to avoid carbon leakage.
What are the costs of EU unilateral action,
e.g. no climate deal?
The European Union is working continuously to
convince partners to move towards greater
decarbonisation worldwide in a common effort. A
more comprehensive analysis of different global
paths to decarbonisation was presented in the
Low Carbon Economy Roadmap 2050 exploring
impacts of three global climate situations: a)
business as usual; b) global climate action and
c) fragmented action.