The EU must put extra legislation in place in the lifetime of the current European Commission if it is to meet its commitment to cut domestic carbon emissions by 80-95% by 2050, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has warned.
The European Commission recently released its ‘Roadmap to a low carbon society’ which outlined the need for a “fully decarbonised power sector” by 2050. But the need for action is much more immediate than EU leaders realise.
Since the transport and agriculture sectors will still emit carbon in 2050, the power sector must be at zero carbon by then, and this requires immediate action, says Christian Kjaer, chief executive of EWEA. “Because fossil fuel power plants run for 30 to 45 years, investment decisions taken today will determine our energy mix and carbon emissions in 2050”, he explains. “This means that to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2050, in theory no new carbon-emitting power plants ought to be built after 2015.”
EWEA proposes in its new report, ‘EU Energy Policy to 2050’:
* A binding “Emissions Performance Standard” (EPS) to limit carbon emissions on new power plants from 2015, starting at 350g/KWh – the emissions of a gas plant – and going down over time to encourage technological progress.
* Reducing Europe’s domestic emissions by 30% by 2020 instead of the current 20% target, which includes reductions outside the EU.
* Setting domestic emissions reduction targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050, taking the power sector to zero carbon by 2050, as well as a 2030 renewable energy target. Higher emission reduction targets would also help tighten up the Emissions Trading System and make it more efficient.
“Europe needs to agree new policies and targets now for the period after 2020 to achieve the 80-95% emissions reduction it has committed itself to,” he adds. “EWEA believes a more ambitious emissions reduction target for 2020, alongside additional goals for 2030 and 2040, an Emissions Performance Standard and a new renewable energy target for 2030, can drive the ‘revolution in energy systems’ which EU Heads of State recently acknowledged is necessary.”
EWEA believes that wind energy alone could provide 50% of the EU’s power demand by 2050, with the other 50% coming from the many other renewable energy technologies