Meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement will require a deep decarbonisation of the EU economy. The power sector is taking its share in this effort and is acting to become carbon-neutral well before 2050. Providing carbon-neutral electricity to Europeans will decrease our emissions but it will also open up the door to the decarbonisation of those sectors emitting most GHGs in Europe. Transport, buildings and industrial processes can and should electrify to cut emissions, improve air quality and reduce noise levels.
The potential for electrification has been analysed in detail in our Decarbonisation Pathways’ study in 2018. The study shows that removing the barriers to adopting electric technologies together would enable us to cut EU emissions by 80-95% between now and 2050. An economy where 60% of final energy consumption is directly coming from decarbonised electricity can be achieved, leading to climate protection as well as societal and environmental benefits. Energy efficiency and other carbon-neutral solutions will complement electrification to deliver on Europe’s ambitions. Our Decarbonisation Pathways study shows that electricity will play a leading role in transport, with up to 63% of total final energy consumption could become electric. This will bring about increased system efficiency too: additional amounts of variable renewable energy can be injected into the grid via smart charging operations, by making EVs responsive to price and grid signals. Incorporating such existing technologies into legislation will allow for wider market penetration and make electrification of transport an even more economically viable option. In buildings, energy efficiency is a key driver of emission reductions: district heating and cooling are expected to keep on playing an important role in some regions, while some 63% of buildings energy consumption could be electric in 2050 thanks to the adoption of electric heat pumps. Smart and digitalised solutions allowing people to manage their energy consumption efficiently increase system efficiency, optimising energy consumption.
A series of industrial processes can be electrified by up to 50% in 2050. As the EU industry faces international competition, the relative competitiveness of electricity against other carbon-neutral fuels will be the critical driver for this shift. Eurelectric is engaged to ensure that electrification in industry is economically and ecologically sound. Hydrogen and other carbon-neutral alternatives will also play a role and drive indirect electrification, using clean fuels which are produced with the help of carbon-neutral power as well.