Electricity generation will always be somewhat carbon intensive.
Zero-carbon generation in the EU is possible.
A decarbonised power sector would rely on a combination of renewable generation and sources of flexibility that can balance the daily and seasonal variability of many renewable generators. These sources of flexibility would potentially include storage and smart demand-side tools and automation. Interconnectors that transport low-carbon electricity from locations with an oversupply to locations with too little generation will also be vital.
Even under a scenario in which generation is zero-carbon, generation technologies may still have lifetime emissions if the manufacturing, construction or decommissioning processes involve emissions. , New materials and cleaner ways to build, operate and maintain are continuously researched, and allow for a further reduction in the carbon-intensity of power generation even where other supporting sectors remain net emitters. For example, Vestas, the Danish wind turbine manufacturer plans to abolish non-recyclable turbine parts by 2040.
IRENA and State Grid Corporation of China, “Electrification with Renewables: Driving the Transformation of Energy Services Preview For Policy Makers,” 2019, https://irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2019/Jan/IRENA_RE-Electrification_SGCC_2019_preview.pdf.
World Nuclear Association, “Comparison of Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Various Electricity Generation Sources,” WNNA Report, 2011, https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.
C. Bauer et al., “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Energy Systems, Comparison, and Overview,” Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene 1–5 (2017): 473–84, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809665-9.09276-4.
Craig Richards, “Vestas Plans ‘zero-Waste Turbines’ by 2040,” Wind Power Montlhly, January 20, 2020, https://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1671285/vestas-plans-zero-waste-turbines-2040.