Credible decarbonisation pathways to 2050 do not assume extensive electrification.

Most, if not all, decarbonisation scenarios, including those of the EU Commission, foresee extensive electrification. The Commission’s own analysis of cost-effective measures to reduce emissions by ~90% shows electricity’s direct share of final energy demand more than doubling between 2015 and 2050, with further electrification under more ambitious scenarios.

Most, if not all, decarbonisation pathways project extensive electrification. In the European Commission’s 2018 analysis of pathways to 2050, which examined eight different potential scenarios, electricity becomes the dominant carrier in final consumption in every scenario, including those designed to specially emphasise the use of alternative fuels like hydrogen. In the cost-effective scenario (consistent with a roughly 90% reduction in emissions), electricity goes from making up 22% of final energy consumption in 2015, to close to half of all final energy consumption in 2050. This reflects the electrification of energy demand in industrial processes, heat and transport. The more ambitions emission reductions depend on even more electrification.

Eurelectric has shown that, under a 95% emission reduction scenario for Europe, electricity could make up 60% of final energy consumption. Again, increased ambition following from the European Green Deal could imply an even higher degree of electrification.

Further global studies from reputable sources such as the IPCC, the IEA and IRENA all see a major increase in the share of electricity in final energy consumption. To achieve a below-2°C pathway, the IPCC also expects electricity’s share of global final consumption to increase dramatically to reach up to 50% by mid-century. These conclusions are matched by those of IRENA , and in the IEA WEO Sustainable Development scenario, final consumption of electricity grows in Europe by 1.1% a year between 2018-40 even while total final energy consumption falls by 1.3% annually, again resulting in a dramatic expansion in electricity’s total share.

References:

European Commission, “In-Depth Analysis In Support Of The Commission Communication COM(2018) 773: A Clean Planet for All - A European Long-Term Strategic Vision for a Prosperous, Modern, Competitive and Climate Neutral Economy” (Brussels, 2018), fig. 20, https://ec.europa.eu/clima/sites/clima/files/docs/pages/com_2018_733_analysis_in_support_en_0.pdf.

Eurelectric, “Decarbonisation Pathways: Full Study Results,” 2018, 50, https://cdn.eurelectric.org/media/3558/decarbonisation-pathways-all-slideslinks-29112018-h-4484BB0C.pdf.

W. V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, E. Lonnoy Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J. B. R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M. I. Gomis, and T. Waterfield T. Maycock, M. Tignor, “Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5°C above Pre-Industrial Levels and Related Global Greenhouse Gas Emission Pathways, in the Context of Strengthening the Global Response to the Threat of Climate Change,” 2019, 130, https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Full_Report_High_Res.pdf.

IRENA, Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050 (2019 Edition), International Renewable Energy Agency, 2019, 20.

International Energy Agency, “World Energy Outlook 2018,” 2018, https://doi.org/10.1787/weo-2018-2-en.