Electricity is key for new European energy policy

23 March 2007 – In Brussels, Belgium yesterday, Eurelectric (the Union of the Electricity Industry) unveiled the results of a year-long project designed to draw up a clear view of the role electricity will play in helping to meet the energy challenges facing Europe.

The project was carried out in cooperation with several external partners, academic teams and industry bodies. It investigated the impact of different demand-side and supply-side policies and technologies through quantitative modelling and scenario building up to the year 2050. Four scenarios were investigated: the “Baseline” scenario, based on current policies; an “Efficiency & RES” scenario, which centres on energy efficiency and renewables; a “Supply” scenario, which foresees a nuclear renaissance and use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology; and a “Role of Electricity” scenario, which envisages the use of all options towards a low-carbon energy system – energy efficiency, renewables, nuclear energy and CCS.

The latter scenario exploits the synergy between low-carbon electricity supply and efficient electro-technologies, including in areas traditionally limited to direct combustion of oil and gas – namely road transport (through the introduction of plug-in hybrid cars) and heating & cooling (through heat pumps).

The results highlight that the “Baseline” scenario is unsustainable, both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and gas and oil import dependency. They also show that only a European energy policy based strongly on demand-side energy efficiency, active development of all low-carbon supply sources and active exploitation of the synergy between low-carbon electricity supply and efficient electro-technologies will ensure the transition to a low-carbon economy, while contributing to both the security of Europe’s energy supply and the competitiveness of the economy.

Eurelectric concludes that in order to seize this opportunity, a clear energy policy pathway must be implemented without delay. This new energy policy must be built around the following six keystones, which must be developed in parallel.
1. Unleash the potential of energy efficiency
2. Develop a low-carbon electricity system by using all available options
3. “Intelligent” electrification of the economy
4. Consistent deployment strategy
5. A least-cost, market-oriented approach
6. Global cooperation on global issues