Powering a climate-neutral economy: Commission sets out plans for the energy system of the future and clean hydrogen
To become climate-neutral by 2050, Europe needs to transform its energy system, which accounts for 75% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. The EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen, adopted yesterday, will pave the way towards a more efficient and interconnected energy sector, driven by the twin goals of a cleaner planet and a stronger economy.
The two strategies present a new clean energy investment agenda, in line with the Commission's Next Generation EU recovery package and the European Green Deal. The planned investments have the potential to stimulate the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. They create European jobs and boost our leadership and competitiveness in strategic industries, which are crucial to Europe's resilience.
Energy System Integration
The EU Strategy for Energy System Integration will provide the framework for the green energy transition. The current model where energy consumption in transport, industry, gas and buildings is happening in ‘silos' - each with separate value chains, rules, infrastructure, planning and operations - cannot deliver climate neutrality by 2050 in a cost efficient way; the changing costs of innovative solutions have to be integrated in the way we operate our energy system. New links between sectors must be created and technological progress exploited.
Energy system integration means that the system is planned and operated as a whole, linking different energy carriers, infrastructures, and consumption sectors. This connected and flexible system will be more efficient, and reduce costs for society. For example, this means a system where the electricity that fuels Europe's cars could come from the solar panels on our roofs, while our buildings are kept warm with heat from a nearby factory, and the factory is fuelled by clean hydrogen produced from off-shore wind energy.
There are three main pillars to this strategy:
- First, a more ‘circular' energy system, with energy efficiency at its core. The strategy will identify concrete actions to apply the ‘energy efficiency first' principle in practice and to use local energy sources more effectively in our buildings or communities. There is significant potential in the reuse of waste heat from industrial sites, data centres, or other sources, and energy produced from bio-waste or in wastewater treatment plants. The Renovation Wave will be an important part of these reforms.
- Second, a greater direct electrification of end-use sectors. As the power sector has the highest share of renewables, we should increasingly use electricity where possible: for example for heat pumps in buildings, electric vehicles in transport or electric furnaces in certain industries. A network of one million electric vehicle charging points will be among the visible results, along with the expansion of solar and wind power.
- For those sectors where electrification is difficult, the strategy promotes clean fuels, including renewable hydrogen and sustainable biofuels and biogas. The Commission will propose a new classification and certification system for renewable and low-carbon fuels.
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