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The European Union (EU) and China are, essentially, in a competition to see who will invest the most money in clean energy (sorry, U.S. clean energy lovers, a certain section of our political ‘elite’ limit our competitiveness). Historically, the EU is in the lead, but I think we all know that China is investing tremendous amounts of money in the clean energy sector. Nonetheless, the EU is still going strong.
The EU recently released its 2050 Energy Roadmap, which looks at a number of different scenarios for how it can decarbonize (or decarbonise) its energy infrastructure to reduce its carbon emissions 85% by 2050. (Note: the European Commission set 80% as the minimum reduction target for 2050, from 1990 levels.)
While the EU is committed to reducing its carbon emissions, however, there is great diversity, country-to-country, on how that should be done. And there is a lot of energy policy freedom on the country level. Five different decarbonization scenarios are presented in the roadmap.
Renewables International reports: “The roadmap therefore reflects this lack of consensus within the EU; the focus is not just on efficiency and renewables, but also on nuclear and carbon sequestration and storage (CCS).”
Some scenarios give more love to renewable energy, some to energy efficiency, some to nuclear, and some to CCS.
The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) notes the obvious regarding some of the roadmap’s failures: the roadmap “has failed to merge renewables and efficiency in a joint scenario,” EREC notes.
It also tears into some obviously bad assumptions. EREC President Arthouros Zervos says:
“The alleged high price is an attempt to discredit renewables. It is based on completely unrealistic assumptions such as running fossil and nuclear plans very infrequently. In reality no one is going to build a nuclear plant to run at 50% capacity. Other biased assumptions include overly high capital costs for renewables, insufficient energy efficiency, no infrastructure costs for CCS, and an oil price of $70, when it is already over $100 today.”
Of course, given the diversity of scenarios, the roadmap lacks any clear… roadmap on how decarbonization will occur. This is true for electricity, but is especially true for the transportation sector. From Renewables International: “ the roadmap states that roughly 33 percent of energy consumption in the EU takes place in the transport sector, almost all of which is imported (Denmark is the only oil-exporting nation in the EU – see the Key Figures PDF), but the roadmap does not set forth an explicit proposal for future transportation.”
Via the European Commission, key findings from Energy Roadmap 2050 are:
The key findings don’t seem to jive with some of the criticism above (which, on one hand, is good), bringing up the old adage, “the devil is in the details.”
EU flag via shutterstock
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.