What is the impact of the current power sector on the transition to greener energy?

The fossil fuel dependency of Europe’s energy infrastructure produces a great barrier to the transition towards a more secure, affordable and sustainable energy system. This report’s purpose was to assess the extent to which the thermal power sector in each Member State and the EU as a whole has the potential to facilitate the necessary transition towards long-term EU energy and climate objectives or to give rise to unsustainable lock-ins in the run-up to 2050. We performed this assessment by investigating the current structure and GHG profile of the EU power sector, the likely evolution of the EU power sector until 2050, and how the evolution of the EU thermal power plant stock compares with GHG mitigation scenarios.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published the report on the low carbon transition in the power sector in the European Union. This report, prepared with support from Trinomics, provides a better understanding of the theoretical evolution of fossil fuel capacity by 2030 and how this would contrast with the qualitatively different EU power sector needed in order to achieve EU climate goals.

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Carbon intensity for conventional power plants (Energy Roadmap 2050 vs bottom-up report projections per region)

Key findings of the research can be summarised as follows:

  1. Europe’s conventional energy system relies predominantly on gas, coal and uranium.
  2. A large portion (81%) of current conventional energy capacity is committed until at least 2030.
  3. Industrial emissions limits could see the closure of 38 GWe of conventional capacity by 2024.
  4. Our analysis shares many similarities with the Energy Roadmap 2050 for the assessed period of 2015 and 2030, indicating potential compatibility of our stock with EU climate targets.
  5. A systemic transition is required to shift Europe away from further investment in thermal energy plants and towards low-carbon alternatives.