Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Energy Roadmap 2050: New opportunity for Europe?

In autumn 2011 is The European Commission expected to publish an Energy Roadmap. This report will follow the Roadmap for a Low-Carbon Economy by 2050 which was published earlier this year and will be focused on reductions of greenhouse gas emissions across the whole EU economy. The main aim is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% in the next 40 years. 

That is the theory. Is it ambitious enough? Or do you think that reducing of carbon footprint is not necessary? Anyway, in the last decade there were many roadmaps which had a revolutionary content, but only few of their aims were fulfilled. The aims of these roadmaps were excellent, based mainly on reduction of greenhouse gases, increase of energy efficiency and development of public transport. Some marginal improvements have been achieved, but there is no crucial impact in sight. Before the final development of the report, another worrying has appeared. Poland, which has undertook a presidency of the Council of the European Union, covers almost 90% of its electricity demand by coal. It is unlikely to expect that during this presidency will be promoted higher emission reduction targets or stricter regulations.

So, is there any possibility that this report will be successful and European energy sector will finally become more sustainable? Is it possible to connect this effort with energy security and competitiveness? Geothermania hopes it would be possible, but some crucial changes are needed. It is necessary to hear the voice of organisations with focus on renewable research and development (R&D). Without significant improvements in this segment, it is impossible to reach the substitution of fossil fuels. Few days ago, European geothermal, hydropower and biomass authorities published their Position paper with the subtitle “Flexible renewable resources will be the key for an optimal electricity mix”. These energy sources are mentioned as flexible and may offer several advantages:
  •  they deliver power 24 hours a day, throughout the year 
  • they are available all over Europe with minor land use
  • they are local resources, creating local employment
  • they can be modulated according to type of resources, to size and nature of equipment, and in order to meet demands 
  • they supply base-load energy with a load factor higher than 60% 

In conclusion, only energy sources with high load factor are able to substitute coal and nuclear as base-load energy source. The geothermal, hydropower and biomass industry are flexible renewables which can meet at least 45% of the European Global Electricity consumption in 2050. That is the assumption which must be emphasized in such roadmaps to reach significant progress.

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