Electrifying the future

Our reliance on electricity means that we expect it to be available on demand. At the same time we want to cut greenhouse gas emissions drastically. Electrifying the future is about unlocking the third generation of wind power and living the future today with smart grids.

The European Union (EU) is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. It is widely accepted that this will require an almost complete decarbonisation of the European power sector. We have analysed three scenarios with the same overall share but a different mix of renewable energy sources.

Offshore wind farm

Large-scale wind power

A pan-European supergrid would serve to transport large volumes of excess production from large-scale wind power at remote locations like in the North Sea or the British islands to consumers across Europe. 

The European supergrid consists of two parts: 

1. An integrated offshore grid in the North Sea connecting major wind farms to each other 

2. A number of major continental transport corridors based on the use of innovative ultra-high voltage direct current technologies 

Norway as Europe’s green battery 

The European supergrid is complemented by pumped hydro capacity in existing Norwegian hydropower plants, allowing Norway to take the role of Europe's 'green battery'. The combination of a pan-European supergrid and Norwegian pumped-hydro storage would decrease the curtailment of wind and solar power, allowing a better exploitation of the available RES potential in Europe.

Europe energy supergrid
The pan-European supergrid
rooftop solar panels

The solar revolution

The 'Solar Revolution' is characterised by the large-scale installation of small and cheap solar photovoltaic modules on European homes as well as on public and commercial buildings.

Democratising electricity supply with smart grids and electricity storage

While solar power can provide very cheap power, available production will often exceed local consumption especially in southern Europe. Even an ambitious expansion of local distribution networks and cross-border transmission links, substantial volumes of solar generated power will need to be curtailed as the European power system is unable to absorb them. This requires widespread application of smart grids to complement the massive rollout of solar-PV. Flexibility is further promoted by the use of small-scale energy storage units like batteries that are assumed to become an affordable and competitive choice by 2050.

Energy academy
Solar PV graph
Reduced curtailment of solar-PV
skyscrapers and solar panels

Source close to demand

A balanced RES portfolio and a decentralised renewable energy supply system require less new transmission capacity to transport electricity to European load centres. A balanced mix of RES technologies and a high degree of regional distribution represent important means to facilitate the large-scale integration of RES. 

A balanced RES portfolio 

Large-scale wind power and the solar revolution require major investments in infrastructure costs, with potentially major impacts on populated and protected areas. We try to resolve this dilemma by locating new RES capacity closer to demand centres instead of installing renewables according to resource availability. A balanced RES portfolio and a de-centralised RES supply requires less additional transmission infrastructure. It saves more than 50 per cent of new transmission capacity by producing electricity closer to where it is consumed.

Energy grid capacity graph
A balanced RES portfolio

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