(Recasts adds details, comment)
LONDON, April 13 Europe must start overhauling
its energy system soon and virtually eradicate carbon-emitting
power generation to achieve an 80-percent cut in greenhouse gas
emissions by 2050 at lowest cost, according to a new study.
The report funded by the European Climate Exchange and
conducted by consultants and academics says slashing climate
warming gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels within 40
years is possible with a nearly zero-carbon power supply and
The short term cost of low or zero carbon electricity
policies could be higher than the business as usual path, but
over time these differences disappear, the report by consultants
McKinsey & Company, Imperial College London, Oxford Economics,
and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands concludes.
"I am encouraged by the main message of the European Climate
Foundation that substantial decarbonisation of the EU power
sector is both technically and economically feasible by 2050,"
European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said at
the report launch.
The "Roadmap 2050" study calls on European countries to
prioritise energy efficiency, support the rapid roll out of a
European "supergrid" and encourage massive investment in low
carbon technologies while making a firm commitment to phase out
high carbon plants.
"Realizing this radical transformation requires fundamental
changes to the energy system. This level of reduction is only
possible with a nearly zero-carbon power supply," the report
"Realistically, the 2050 goals will be hard to realize if
the transition is not started in earnest within the next
Some experts have questioned the idea of a power sector free
of fossil fuels, saying unpredictable solar and wind energy
requires back-up from coal and gas-fired power stations.
But the ECF, which promotes policies aimed at reducing
Europe's global greenhouse gas emissions, says more grid
connections between countries -- particularly Spain and France
-- could minimise the need for back up. [ID:nLDE6290LU]
"It was assumed that high-renewable energy scenarios would
be too unstable to provide sufficient reliability, that
high-renewable scenarios would be uneconomic and more costly,
and that technology breakthroughs would be required to move
Europe to a zero-carbon power sector," Matt Phillips of the
European Climate Foundation, which funded the study, said.
"Roadmap 2050 has found all of these assertions to be
Building the necessary infrastructure will require average
annual European capital expenditure of about 52 billion euros
"Essentially we need to double capital expenditure in the
electricity sector, and delaying things will make it a lot more
expensive," said the ECF's Tom Brookes.
Despite the sharp rise in capital expenditure, the impact on
consumer electricity prices would be small, thanks to the lower
operating costs of renewable energy, the report says.
(Reporting by Daniel Fineren and Charlie Dunmore; Editing by