Solar power plant in Crimea, Ukraine. Photo by Zachary Shahan | CleanTechnica.

Solar Power Is The Fastest Way To Reduce Europe’s Dependency On Russian Gas

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The war in Ukraine has been a wake-up call for Europe’s energy needs, to say the least. Even though Europe has been aggressive in its expansion of solar power due to increased renewable energy ambitions and lower cost, much more can be done. The need to reduce dependence on Russian gas for energy has become more prominent since the war began in Ukraine. According to the Low Emissions Scenario 2022 by Statkraft, Europe is now on track to have significantly more solar power by 2030 than expected as a result of this.

This Low Emissions Scenario by Statkraft is in its seventh year and is a comprehensive analysis of the global energy market towards 2050. According to the report, wind power and solar power are slated to be the most crucial renewable technologies for reducing the European Union’s dependence on Russian gas and cut emissions.

Before the war in Ukraine, the EU solar energy market was expected to increase around 33 GW per year according to last year’s analysis by Statkraft. Now, in the new 2022 analysis, the company published an estimated average yearly increase of solar capacity in the EU of between 45 and 52 GW by 2030. Solar power is more cost-efficient than other renewable energy technologies, and construction can take less than two years.

Solar power is seen as the biggest winner in the energy transition. According to the report, it will become the world’s largest source of power generation around 2035.

The Low Emissions Scenario helps show that we don’t have to choose between solving the ongoing energy crisis or the climate crisis. The solution to both crises is the same: more renewable energy and more efficient energy use. This also helps countries that are transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy to increase their energy self-sufficiency.

“In the Low Emissions Scenario, we see that the best measures to solve the ongoing energy crisis are the same measures that are crucial to fighting the climate crisis. A greater focus on energy security and energy self-sufficiency will also drive the green energy transition,” says Christian Rynning-Tønnesen in Statkraft.

In Statkraft’s new scenario, renewable energy is slated to account for almost 80 percent of the world’s total power generation in 2050. According to the report, solar power will be the world’s largest energy source by 2050, producing more than 21,000 TWh, which is the equivalent to 80 percent of the world’s electricity demand today.

“In an energy system with much more weather-dependent renewable energy such as wind and solar, there is an increased need for flexible solutions that can help balance consumption and production. In Norway, hydropower’s unique ability to store water will provide both short- and long-term flexibility. Hydropower can be upgraded to achieve an even more important role in the energy system of the future,” says Christian Rynning-Tønnesen.

Wind and solar power will be the dominant source of electricity and will largely outcompete fossil competitors. An essential part of this transition will be energy storage solutions, such as batteries, which will be essential to keep balance in the more intermittent system. During the transition, hydropower and hydrogen will continue to grow in importance as emissions-free and flexible resources as well.

“Energy security, demand for affordable energy, and the climate crisis all indicate that we should now accelerate the global energy transition. Electrification based on renewable power, and energy efficiency are key pillars,” says Christian Rynning-Tønnesen.

The Low Emissions Scenario is an optimistic yet realistic scenario where global energy-related CO2 emissions are reduced by 60 percent from today until 2050. The purposed scenario shows if global energy-related CO2 emissions are reduced by 60 percent from today until 2050, that could limit global warming to 2 degrees. An even more aggressive transition is needed to reach the 1.5 degree target.


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