Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Regulation - February 12, 2020
BNEF finds emissions could drop 60% through electrification of Europe
A new report published by BloombergNEF Feb. 11 found that greenhouse gas emissions could be reduce by 60% between 2020 and 2050 through the electrification of the transport, buildings and industrial sectors in Europe.
The report, titled Sector Coupling in Europe: Powering Decarbonization, was written in partnership with Eaton and Statkraft and outlines a potential pathway to the electrification of these industries, taking into account the different policies in countries throughout the region. This pathway also estimates that emissions across a larger category of sectors (power, transport, buildings and industry) would fall 68% from 2020 to 2050 if all the mentioned conditions are meant.
These different pathways include both direct and indirect changes to the various sectors, with direct changes involving the switch to electric vehicles in the transport sectors and the spread of the spread of electric heating systems like heat pumps in buildings and some parts of industry. The indirect changes outlined involve switching to "green hydrogen", which is produced by electrolysis, as fuel for heat for buildings and for other industrial processes that would otherwise use fossil fuels.
"Electrification, or ‘sector coupling’ as it’s known in some countries, could make a huge contribution to the achievement of governments’ emission-reduction targets by exploiting the low-carbon transition already underway in the power generation sector," Victoria Cuming, head of global policy analysis for BNEF, said in a statement.
At this point, these plans outlined by BNEF are hypothetical and would need to be introduced and pursued through the individual governments, including a push for expanding market technologies like carbon capture, use and storage.
Another key aspect of this report found that local grids will need to be extended and increase their flexibility to accommodate the new energy systems needed to achieve this carbon reduction. According to BNEF, power systems could need 75% more generation capacity by 2050, mostly low-cost wind and solar plants. It is possible that the newly electrified sectors could create new flexibility with their ability to alter consumption patterns if executed properly.
"Electrifying other areas of the economy will have significant repercussions for the power system," Albert Cheung, head of analysis for BNEF, said. "Policy makers will have to support the reinforcement and extension of the grid to handle higher power volumes and more renewables, and the deployment of batteries and other sources of flexibility to balance the system."