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Transforming the EU power sector, avoiding a carbon lock-in, European Environment Agency

Europe and the global community are committed to a low-carbon future, a goal to be reached by mid-century. In 2009, the European Council set an objective to reduce EU-wide emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to 80– 95 % of the 1990 levels by 2050 (European Council, 2009). The electricity generating sector is at the heart of Europe's decarbonisation strategy and it is also the focus of this report. To date, power generation remains the largest GHG-emitting sector in Europe, being responsible for roughly one third of all energy-related GHG emissions and more than half of the verified emissions under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) (EEA, 2015a; IEA, 2015). According to the European Commission's Energy Roadmap 2050, by mid-century, the currently available climate mitigation options can deliver a cost-effective decarbonisation of the power sector of 90–98 % compared with 2005 (EC, 2011c). To reach this goal, however, a fundamental change in the composition of Europe's electricity sector will be needed. With fossil fuels still contributing to roughly half of the electricity generated in Europe, moving away from a carbon‑intensive power supply over the next few decades will require a commitment to increase investment in clean technology, restructure the fossil fuel energy infrastructure and ensure a secure and affordable power supply. In this context, this report fills an important information gap by looking at: • the theoretical evolution of fossil fuel capacity by 2030 in the absence of strong drivers to counter present trends; • how this hypothetical evolution would fit in with the need to create a qualitatively different EU power sector by 2030 and beyond, in line with EU climate goals. The concept of 'lock-in' has been extensively used to study the effects of path dependencies and reinforcing effects in the context of transition studies. With regard to the energy system, lock-ins are usually understood as mechanisms inhibiting the diffusion and adoption of carbon-saving technologies (Klitkou, 2015; Frantzeskaki and Loorbach, 2010; Unruh, 2000). Throughout this report, the term 'lock-in' is used to refer to situations where the amount of fossil fuel capacity could exceed the levels that correspond to the EU's long-term decarbonisation objectives according to selected Energy Roadmap 2050 scenarios
Literary Form
non fiction
Physical Description
79 p. ;, 30 cm

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