Pathways for the European electricity supply system to 2050 – Implications of stringent CO2 reductions
Doctoral thesis, 2009
This thesis, which consists of four separate papers, investigates possible pathways for
the European electricity supply systems to meet stringent CO2 emission reductions.
Assessments are made for single EU member states, selected regions and the EU as a
whole. The analyses are based on modelling scenarios with the aid of a technoeconomic
model developed during the thesis work. This model has the objective of
finding cost-efficient investment strategies within the electricity supply system until
mid-century (2050). Special emphasis is put on the transition from the present system
to a system which meets stringent CO2 reduction targets, considering timing of new
investments and technology choices. Thus, the existing capital stock (power plants)
is included in the model through application of a detailed database, the Chalmers
energy infrastructure database, providing information (e.g. fuel type, capacity and
age structure) on present and planned power plants down to block level for European
power plants. Assuming technical lifetimes for power plants in the database gives
residual capacities remaining over the period studied, which together with new
investments meet projected electricity demand. New investment options are limited
to presently known technologies and aggregated into technology classes (e.g. hard
coal condensing power and onshore wind power). European analyses include
assessments of fully integrated markets for electricity, CO2 emission allowances and
a joint European effort to meet the targets for renewables.
The results indicate that technology options at hand and efficiency measures can help
to reduce CO2 emissions from European electricity supply substantially. The studies
presented here assume emission reductions within the electricity sector of up to 85%
by 2050, compared to 1990 emission levels. To meet these goals, however,
significant changes are required in the current infrastructures of the electricity-supply
system. The challenge is not due to a lack in technologies – these are available at
costs which should not be prohibitive for society and which, indeed, are expected
from the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) – but due to the large investment
ramp-up required and to fuel-market implications as well as the institutional and
logistic challenges (permitting procedures, establishing CO2 transportation systems,
finding sites for wind power etc). Key measures included in this research are Carbon
Capture and Storage (CCS) and large-scale employment of renewables in electricity
generation. In addition, it can be seen that efficiency measures to reduce electricity
demand are of great importance to reduce the strain in capacity ramp-up of CCS and
renewables. Common targets on CO2 emission reductions point to differentiated
strategy between member states. Thus, regions which currently have high carbon
intensity and are located near suitable storage sites will benefit most from CCS
implementation, whereas other regions have large potential for renewable electricity
generation (e.g. coastal areas with high expectations in annual average load hours for
wind power). Finally, this study has presupposed that emission targets must be met.
The focus has been on how to meet the targets and what implications we may expect
from different technological choices that are at hand in order to meet these targets.
However, it is also clear in this analysis that the investigated technological transitions
will not come about automatically. Additional policy measures will be necessary.
The EU-ETS, as we know it today, is merely a beginning.
Electrcity supply system