The EU has set itself a long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95%, when compared to 1990 levels, by 2050. The Energy Roadmap 2050 explores the transition of the energy system in ways that would be compatible with this greenhouse gas reductions target while also increasing competitiveness and security of supply.
To achieve these goals, significant investments need to be made in new low-carbon technologies, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and grid infrastructure. Because investments are made for a period of 20 to 60 years, policies that promote a stable business climate which encourages low-carbon investments must start being made today.
The European Commission's 2011 Energy Roadmap set out four main routes to a more sustainable, competitive and secure energy system in 2050: energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear energy, and carbon capture and storage. It combined these routes in different ways to create and analyse seven possible scenarios for 2050.
Conclusions of the analysis:
- Decarbonising the energy system is technically and economically feasible. In the long run, all scenarios that achieve the emissions reduction target are cheaper than the continuation of current policies.
- Increasing the share of renewable energy and using energy more efficiently are crucial, irrespective of the particular energy mix chosen.
- Early infrastructure investments cost less, and much of the infrastructure in the EU built 30 to 40 years ago needs to be replaced anyway. Immediately replacing it with low-carbon alternatives can avoid more costly changes in the future. According to the International Energy Agency, investments in the power sector made after 2020 would cost 4.3 times as much as those made before 2020.
- A European approach is expected to result in lower costs and more secure energy supplies when compared to individual national schemes. With a common energy market, energy can be produced where it is cheapest and delivered to where it is needed.