European energy could be 100% renewable by 2050

Europe and North Africa have the potential to meet all their electricity needs from renewable sources - if there was an international grid and energy market.

A study carried out by climate experts from management consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers and international partners suggests that this dream is attainable by 2050.

And offshore wind from the North Sea, hydro from the Alps and Scandinavia, solar from southern Europe and the deserts of North Africa, wave and tidal energy from coastal areas and widespread adoption of biomass burning would be enough to keep the region running around the year, says the study.

But it would require a single European energy market linked with an equivalent market for North Africa, and countries would have to dramatically improve the links that would allow them to transfer electricity across borders.

PwC says a transformation of the power sector based on 100% renewables is viable by 2050 and would address energy security and supply concerns while decarbonising electricity generation and at the same time contribute to a substantial reduction in energy poverty.

Gus Schellekens, director, sustainability and climate change, PwC said: “Europe and other parts of the world are arriving at a crossroads where we have the choice and ability to achieve renewable power at scale.

“Opportunities to use clean and affordable natural sources of electricity have been flirted with over the past 150 years.

“This study lays out a clear framework of how this time could be different.”

Anthony Patt, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis which was also involved in the research said: “The combination of increased demand for electricity and security of supply is a very powerful driver of major power sector change in Europe and worldwide.

“The study and the roadmap have been formulated to stimulate a debate about energy and climate change possibilities in Europe.”

The full report can be viewed online here

David Gibbs

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