EU Science Hub

Benchmarking Scenario Comparisons: Key indicators for the clean energy transition

Cover JRC-IRENA report on Benchmarking Energy Scenario Comparisons
Sep 14 2021

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has today published, jointly with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a new report in an emerging field of study important to the clean energy transition.

The report Benchmarking Scenario Comparisons: Key indicators for the clean energy transition synthesises experts’ views on how to improve scenario comparison studies, as presented and discussed during the workshop on Benchmarking long-term scenario comparison studies for the clean energy transition in September 2020.

Why compare long-term energy scenarios?

Long-term energy scenarios have become an essential tool for policymakers guiding the clean energy transition. The variety of scenarios produced by various institutions leads to an abundance of insights and technology combinations. Comparison studies have emerged to help understand the convergences and divergences in scenarios and the trade-offs for decision makers. These help to identify key insights for policymaking, especially in the context of the clean energy transition.

How to improve scenario comparisons?

The authors identified a list of indicators that are often missing in scenario studies and need more focus. Studies could provide more information, for example, on bioenergy feedstock and the uptake of zero-emission vehicles. There is also room for more transparency on the sources from which carbon dioxide is captured and on how much is reused or sequestered. Some critical assumptions that need further attention include the speed at which sectors can transition and the availability of climate-neutral fuels.

What do scenario comparisons say about the clean energy transition?

The benchmark exercise also produced a useful list of similarities and differences in terms of what each scenario understands to be necessary for energy transition. Similarities can be the basis for greater convergence among stakeholders on technology development and investment. Divergences in energy transition scenarios expose factors requiring further study and discussion, such as the critical assumptions mentioned above.

Reaching net-zero emissions in the EU energy system

One of the energy scenario comparison studies under the spotlight is the JRC’s own report, Towards net-zero emissions in the EU energy system by 2050. It compares scenarios produced by several important organisations in Europe and around the world that achieve a reduction of around 55% in GHG emissions by 2030, and aim for climate neutrality by 2050, in line with the European Green Deal.

JRC-IRENA Benchmarking energy scenario comparisons
©European Union, 2021