Reveal the true value of electricity! New EURELECTRIC report on electrification outlines its contribution to sustainable energy use

23 September 2015

The decarbonisation of heating, cooling & transport in Europe is one of the most challenging tasks policymakers, industry and customers are currently facing. Heating and cooling in EU buildings and industries makes up almost 50% of our energy consumption. Together with transport (32%), they represent the largest shares of energy demand across Europe. According to the European Commission, 85% of heating and cooling is produced from fossil fuels, which presents a vast potential for decarbonisation and fuel savings, especially in urban areas.

Following the electrification leaflet published last June during the Sustainable Energy Week, today EURELECTRIC launched a new report showcasing how decarbonising electricity generation will provide a major contribution to meeting Europe’s climate change targets. “With the power sector fully committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 80-95% by 2050 and a policy framework in place to ensure this goal, electricity is set to become the energy carrier of the future,” said Philippe Bauduin, chairman of EURELECTRIC’s working group on energy efficiency.

The report finds that electrifying heating, cooling and transport with power from decarbonised sources reveals a wide range of benefits which are critical in the transition to a sustainable economy in Europe. These benefits include:

  • Reductions in emissions from local heating in buildings and cities
  • Reductions in emissions from road and rail transport
  • A shift away from burning fuel at the point of consumption will also lead to improvements in air quality, especially in urban areas
  • Reductions in traffic noise pollution in cities

The report additionally lays out further opportunities arising from the electrification of these sectors. Every battery electric vehicle and electric appliance, such as a water heater, has the potential to work as decentralised energy storage, effectively becoming part of a flexible demand system. This is a key feature which will allow for very high renewable penetration in the future and will enable demand response options for European customers, thus giving them more power.

Realising the real value of electricity requires policies which recognise the potential for decarbonised power. While the Commission, in its Roadmap for a low carbon economy in 2050, acknowledges that “electricity will play a central role in the low carbon economy” through “the prospect of partially replacing fossil fuels in transport and heating”, the enabling levers have not yet been set. On the one hand, this means overcoming major obstacles such as additional energy costs placed on electricity bills, making it more expensive than other energy carriers. But it also means developing smarter financial instruments to increase private investment in new technologies. Last week EURELECTRIC released a position paper in which the issue of financing for investment is addressed.     

It is also critical to recognise electrification in the European innovation policy in order to push forward new technologies. During a Brussels based event later this year EURELECTRIC will invite key stakeholders to debate the challenges and opportunities to harvest the full potential from carbon-neutral electricity in heating, cooling and transport. 

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