EFFICIENT DECARBONISATION OF THE ECONOMY
Decarbonisation of the economy requires wide-scale electrification in the short term
Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 means taking action in each and every sector. Efficient decarbonisation of the economy means achieving it at the lowest possible cost, using the most competitive alternatives in each end-use.
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The current energy system is based on the use of fossil fuels, which are present in all end-uses and account for more than 60 % of energy demand in Europe. This model is very inefficient and polluting. With 9 % of world emissions, Europe is the third biggest polluter on the planet after China and the USA. This is why, for some time, the EU has been leading the fight against climate change, with targets and specific policies to reduce the CO2 content of the atmosphere. EU emissions have decreased by 22 % compared to 1990 levels, mainly due to developments in the electricity sector (-30 %).
ALTERNATIVES FOR DECARBONISATION OF THE ECONOMY
The transition to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 will require significant efforts across all sectors, as well as the use of all available technologies that are either emission-free or carbon-neutral. Namely:
Direct electrification with 100 % renewable electricity: the generation of electricity from the wind or the sun makes it possible to decarbonise the electricity sector and, by using electric vehicles and heat pumps, the emissions from other end-uses such as transport, heating and cooling can be eliminated.
Indirect electrification or green hydrogen from 100 % renewable sources (green H2): clean hydrogen (green hydrogen or green H2) can be produced from renewable electricity, thus yielding carbon-neutral fuels in the form of gas (clean synthetic methane) or liquid (kerosene, gasoline or synthetic diesel).
Biofuels: they are produced from organic material in emission-free processes and can be used in a wide range of end-uses.
Although green hydrogen (green H2) is still too costly and biofuels are limited by the scarcity of organic resources, renewable electrical energies are already competitive, their cost is expected to continue to fall, possibly by a further 30 % by 2030, and their widespread use represents an increase in efficiency over other alternatives.
In the short and medium term, electricity based on renewable energy will remain the most realistic alternative for mass decarbonisation of the economy and could allow for a theoretical decarbonisation of more than 80 % of final energy demand in Europe. It will do this by replacing fossil fuels in the electricity sector with renewable sources and electrifying light transport, household heating and low and medium temperature industry.
EUROPEAN UNION SECTORS THAT CAN BE DECARBONISED THROUGH DIRECT ELECTRIFICATION
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The other niche sectors that are difficult to electrify (shipping, aviation, long-haul heavy vehicles and high-temperature industries) account for less than 20 % of EU consumption and emissions.
USES THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO ELECTRIFY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
|Sector||% Final energy consumption||% Total emissions|
|High temperature industry*||7||4|
* High temperature industry (>500º C): iron and steel production, cement, chemical industry.
Efficient decarbonisation requires the decarbonisation of the electricity sector by employing renewable energy and large-scale electrification in the short term, leaving the consumption niches for later since they depend on more expensive and immature technologies.
Iberdrola was a pioneer in its determined commitment to renewable energy, anticipating the current energy transition in 20 years, and today more than 60 % of its generation capacity is renewable, making it a world leader in wind energy. With its Smart solutions it is contributing to the deployment of electric vehicles by developing and marketing private and public charge services. It is also developing electric heat pumps, offering alternatives for heating and cooling tailored to our customers' needs. It is also worth highlighting the major R&D project that Iberdrola is going to implement in Puertollano focused on producing H2 from sources that are 100 % renewable (green H2) with the aim being to decarbonise and bring down the cost of this industrial product.