Long-Term Perspectives on Decarbonizing European Power Systems

Report | Read Time 5 MIN | European Energy Markets & Policy Series
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European Energy Policies
Decarbonization
European Power Systems

Building a global energy sector with Net Zero emissions by 2050 will require an unprecedented transformation in the way energy is produced, transported and stored.

The following  ASSET studies  take a forward-looking perspective on the trends that will shape the evolution of power systems in the near and long term.


Study 1: Critical Flexibility And Storage Expectations For Future European Power Systems

The flexibility of a power system is its ability to accommodate predictable as well as unpredictable changes in energy generation (e.g., coming from variable renewable energy sources (RES)) and demand in a way that meets reliability standards and avoids costly curtailment.

This study estimates which, where, when and how much storage and flexibility will be needed in the European power system to meet 2030 goals, including:

  • A thorough review of the main storage and power system flexibility means, organized into three categories: supply-side flexibility, demand-side flexibility, and energy storage
  • The expected need for storage and flexibility by 2030 in the context of the European Council (EUCO) scenarios, with a specific focus on the impact of congestion in the transmission or distribution grid
  • Four sorts of variability for systems with high contribution from variable renewable energy sources

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Study 2: Europe 2050, A Forecast Of The Electricity Sector Evolution

Several factors are impacting the power systems all around the world. These factors have already introduced major changes in the power system, and it is expected that fundamental changes will continue to occur in the upcoming decades. The following study covers:

  • The long-term trends (Horizon 2050) that will impact power systems in general and more specifically, the European power system
  • Boundaries and limitations of the power system in its interactions with other energy systems

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Study 3: Technology Pathways in Decarbonization Scenarios

The PRIMES model (operated by the Energy Economy Environment Modelling Lab (E3M)) delivers the scenarios illustrating the potential impact of energy and climate policies, long-term targets and decarbonization pathways for the operation of the European energy system.

Although we may not have foresight into all the technologies that will be deployed to achieve full decarbonization of the EU energy system, our expert study investigates novel technology pathways, examines their current costs and performance and forecasts their evolution. To this aim, we analyzed:

  • The robustness and representativeness of these technology assumptions through key stakeholders' interviews, including R&D experts, industry representatives and public authorities
  • Technology pathways and associated costs as compiled by E3M through PRIMES modeling

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Study 4: Sectoral Integration: Long-Term Perspective on the EU Energy System

Sectoral integration involves combined actions towards low carbon transition in more than one sector, aiming at exploiting synergies between them. This study analyzes the importance of sectoral integration to achieve the long-term clean energy transition and meet the emission reduction pledges for 2050. The objective is to identify the impact that sectoral integration could have on the cost and the infrastructure requirements of the energy system. The study explores the following applications:

  • Power to Gas, examining the use of hydrogen and clean gas in decarbonizing the natural gas grid
  • Power to Industry, exploring the use of green hydrogen in industry (refining and fertilizers are the main users)
  • Power to Mobility, examining the potential to decarbonize mobility through hydrogen fuel cells and battery-based electricity
  • Power to Heat, whether for high-temperature applications or low-medium temperature geothermal energy

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Study 5: Hydrogen Generation in Europe: Overview of Costs and Key Benefits

The European Commission’s hydrogen strategy brings different strands of policy action together to create an enabling environment to scale hydrogen supply and demand for a climate-neutral economy. It highlights clean hydrogen and its value chain as essential areas for unlocking investment that will foster sustainable growth and jobs. It aims to install at least 6 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolyzers by 2024 and at least 40 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolyzers by 2030, and foresees industrial applications and mobility as the two main markets. This report provides the following:

  • Insight on the full hydrogen value chain, from the production of renewable electricity as the energy source for renewable hydrogen production to the investment needs in industrial applications and hydrogen trucks and buses
  • Data-driven evidence for identifying investment opportunities in the hydrogen value chain from 2020 to 2050 and associated benefits in terms of employment

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The ASSET project provides studies in support of EU policy-making, research, and innovation in the field of energy.

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