Future Energy Systems in Europe

January 22, 2011

– a STOA project

In 2007-09 The Danish Board of Technology carried out a project on Future Energy Systems in Europe – scenarios towards 2030 – for the European Parliament. Ea Energy Analyses, Denmark and Risoe National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy/ Technical University of Denmark were consultants and cooperated with The Danish Board of Technology.
The project was commissioned by STOA (Scientific Technology Options Assessment), which is the European Parliament’s Scientific and Technological Options Assessment unit. By use of a cross-European scenario modelling tool, provided for the project, the scenario work examined how the EU goals on improved security of supply and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be fulfilled in an economically efficient way. Moreover, the project provided a common understanding of the challenges, barriers and opportunities for the energy sector among EU parliamentarians and industrial stakeholders. 3 workshops with MEP´s, researchers and stakeholders in the energy field were arranged with a dialogue on the scenario work during the project period.
The final report describes the scenario work for EU 27 on the overall energy system, showing how different elements in the European energy systems interact with each other and how different combinations of technology choices and policies lead to different overall results.
The project explores two essentially different developments of the European energy systems through a so-called Small-Tech scenario and a Big-Tech scenario. Both scenarios aim at achieving two concrete goals for 2030: reducing CO2 emissions by 50 per cent compared to the 1990 level and reducing oil consumption by 50 per cent compared to the present level.

The Small-tech scenario focuses on distributed energy generation, energy savings and efficient utilisation of energy through smarter devices and combined heat and power generation. In this scenario, so-called smart grids and better communication between all elements in the energy supply chain allow for the integration of a high share of non-dispatchable generation like wind power and solar power.

The Big-Tech scenario explores the opportunities of more centralised solutions. In Big-tech, almost all new coal and natural gas power plants established from 2020 and onwards are equipped with carbon capture technologies (CCS), and the generation from nuclear power is increased by 40 per cent compared to today. Moreover, it is assumed that all new large coal power plants commissioned in the period 2010-2020 are prepared for CCS and retrofitted in the subsequent decade.

The scenariowork is a contribution to the European work on the energy objectives in the EU 20-20-20 Climate Action Targets for 2020:

  • 20% energy saving
  • 20% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • 20% share of renewables in overall EU energy consumption
  • 10% renewable energy component in transport fuel