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Towards a competitive low-carbon energy sector

EU sets out plans for cutting emissions by over 80% without disrupting energy supplies and competitiveness. Committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050, the EU is exploring the challenges of decarbonisation.

In March this year the EU published its low-carbon roadmap covering all sections of the economy. It is also producing specific plans to cover individual economic sectors. The latest to be unveiled is the energy roadmap 2050 .

As future needs and supply are difficult to predict, the plan presents numerous scenarios examining the possible impacts, challenges and opportunities of modernising the energy system. They take into account potential changes in carbon prices, technology and networks.

Routes towards decarbonisation

Scenarios were created by combining the four main decarbonisation options – energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear and carbon capture and storage. The main findings suggest:

  • decarbonisation is possible and could be less costly than current policies in the long-run
  • energy efficiency and renewables are critical, regardless of the energy mix chosen
  • investment to modernise infrastructure must start now to avoid more costly changes in the future
  • a common energy market is vital to keeping energy costs down and to ensure a secure supply – it should be completed by 2014.

All the scenarios depend on every country taking action on climate change. And regardless of decarbonisation efforts, the EU’s energy networks need investment to replace ageing infrastructure – some of which was built up to 40 years ago.

Investing for the future

With electricity prices set to rise until 2030, investment is needed now in “intelligent” electricity grids and improved technologies to produce, transmit and store energy more effectively. Together with a common energy market, these measures should ensure that prices fall in the long run.

The costs will be outweighed by the high level of sustainable investment brought into the European economy, related jobs, and reduced dependency on imports.

Next steps

Proposals based on the roadmap’s approach will follow in the coming years, starting with measures targeting the internal market, renewable energy and nuclear safety next year.Quelle: PM © Europäische Kommission

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