April 20, 2010 | 7 Comments
The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) this week released its new report RE-thinking 2050 a pathway how the European Union can switch to a 100% renewable energy supply for electricity, heating and cooling as well as transport, examining the effects on Europe's energy supply system and on CO2 emissions. RE-thinking 2050, was initially launched last week.
It assesses how the different renewable energy technologies can contribute to a fully sustainable energy supply by 2050 provided there is strong political, public and economic support for all renewable energy technologies.
“The potential benefits of a future based on renewable energy are multiple: mitigating climate change, ensuring energy security and creating sustainable future-oriented jobs,” said Arthouros Zervos, president of EREC.
According to the report, renewable energy deployment by 2020 will reduce annual energy related CO2 emissions by about 1,200 Mt against 1990 emissions. By 2050 the EU would be able to reduce its energy related CO2 emissions by more than 90%. This reduction would result in an additional total CO2 benefit in 2050 of €3,800 billion. In addition, making the EU 100% renewables-based will result in major social benefits not least related to job creation:
“Considering that the pathway set out in RE-thinking 2050 is followed, the renewable energy sector will employ a total of more than 2.7 million people in 2020 and about 4.4 million in 2030 in the EU. By 2050, employment in our sector will bring 6.1 million people into work," Zervos said.
In response to the publication of the report Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), said, “EWEA fully supports EREC’s vision of Europe moving towards 100% renewable energy by 2050. We have abundant wind, sun and other resources and the technologies to do it...100% renewables is an inspiring but achievable objective which makes economic, environmental and social sense for Europe. I urge European leaders to have the courage and the vision to seize this opportunity and facilitate the necessary changes to infrastructure and market design.”
The report was one of the top agenda items on the opening day of the European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EWEC 2010) in Warsaw and the wind industry said that it could make up 50% of the total mix in that time frame. Wind energy is already a mainstream power source in Europe, annual market growth has been impressive over the past 10 years - 23% on average.
“Realistically, wind can provide 50% of power supplies by 2050 if the necessary changes to infrastructure and markets are made,” Kjaer said. “The potential is there and the industry is ready. All we have to do is maintain current growth rates on and offshore. I am also confident that other renewables can easily meet the other half of Europe’s electricity needs."
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