Zweites Zukunftsforum „E-mobiles Brandenburg – erneuerbar elektrisch“
1. Dezember 2016
Zweites Zukunftsforum „E-mobiles Brandenburg – erneuerbar elektrisch“
1. Dezember 2016

How to meet EU GHG emission reduction targets? A model based decarbonization pathway for Europe’s electricity supply system until 2050 (Pleßmann et al. 2016)

Guido Plessmann, Philipp Blechinger

Published in Energy Strategy Reviews, Volume 15, March 2017, Pages 19-32, ISSN 2211-467X.

Globally, due to industrialization, GHG emissions continue to increase. This is despite the existing scientific and political consensus to fight human-induced climate change. To reverse this trend, viable, cost-effective decarbonization pathways are needed. We focus on the European power supply system and demonstrate the techno-economic feasibility of reaching the EU's mitigation targets by 2050. We show that a transition from conventional to renewable-based power supply systems is possible for the EU even with a politically driven nuclear power phase-out. We provide a guideline for European stakeholders that shows how to transform their power generation systems. By following our recommendations, the EU can be a role model for other countries and regions moving towards decarbonization. Our work is guided by two main motivations:

  1. How can the transition of Europe's power system be modeled adequately?
  2. What is the techno-economically optimal transition pathway for meeting
    the EU GHG power sector emission targets by 2050?

A comparison of power system models has revealed a need for a combined short and long-term simulation tool that includes the principal power generation, storage and transmission technologies being considered in Europe. We adapted and applied the linear model elesplan-m to simulate a techno-economically optimized decarbonization pathway for 18 interconnected European regions and found that meeting the EU's reduction targets, i.e. reducing the GHG emissions from 1300 to 24 Mt CO2eq per year by 2050, can be achieved by large-scale capacity investment in renewable energy sources (RES). The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) would increase from 6.7 to 9.0 ctEUR/kWh and investments of 403 billion EUR would be necessary during the 34 year period analyzed. In 2050, the resulting power supply system is largely composed of wind power (1485 GW) and PV (909 GW), which are supported by 150 GW hydro power and 244 GW gas power. In addition, 432 GW of storage and 362 GW of transmission capacity are required to temporally and spatially distribute electricity.

This work provides not only a feasible concept for a decarbonized power supply system, but shows also the implementation steps necessary to make the transition to that system cost-effective.

Keywords: Decarbonization; Transition pathway; Power system modeling; GHG emission mitigation; Renewable energies