European Renewable Energy
According to a new study by international consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Europe and North Africa could consume 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources by the year 2050, but this all hinges on the formation of a single European energy market that can combine with a similar universal, standards-based energy market in North Africa.
Updating the regional power system to a shared system based on 100 percent renewable energy will serve to achieve two major goals for both Europe and North Africa - energy security and the decarbonisation of power generation technology. Getting all our power from clean technology would also put to rest concerns over current energy supplies and contribute to reducing 'energy poverty' in parts of eastern Europe and North Africa.
PWC worked in collaboration with researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the European Climate Forum on the study, which underlined the need for a 'Super-Smart Grid'. Such a system would allow load and demand management for power, independent of when and where the power is generated.
"Arriving at a crossroads"
The study confirmed that this idea is plausible, taking into account the rate at which existing infrastructure and electricity generation capacities are developing.
As well as the well-documented Baltic and North Sea offshore wind potential that Europe would contribute to the proposed system, plans would also make the most of the natural resources and established weather patterns "vast concentrating solar potential of southern Europe" and in particular the "arid deserts of North Africa".
It would also rely on the hydro capability of Scandinavia and the European alps, the continent's ocean tidal and wave power and biomass generation across Europe.
Gus Schellekens of PWC, explains: "Europe and other parts of the world are arriving at a crossroads where we have the choice and ability to achieve renewable power at scale.
"Opportunities to use clean and affordable natural sources of electricity have been flirted with over the past 150 years; this study lays out a clear framework of how this time could be different."
"A renewables-powered Europe"
The researchers studied the policy, markets, investments and infrastructure leadership that is needed to achieve a goal of 100% renewable energy, but also extensively studied the other necessary methods of achieving a carbon-neutral future such as developing nuclear power and the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The repercussions for the entire region are size-able to say the lest, leaving very few unaffected by the proposed system.
"A renewables-powered Europe would change the landscape for consumers and business" and, by 2050, "with renewable technologies deployed at scale across Europe and North Africa, significant cost reductions would make the renewable power sector a major employer of skilled workers in both Europe and North Africa, and cost competitive, providing affordable electricity across the region."
But first, let's just focus on hitting out target of 20 percent of energy from renewables by 2020.
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