With ‘all hands on deck’, we can meet the Paris climate targets.

THE HAGUE – Achieving the Paris Climate Accord objectives in 2050 is by now becoming increasingly difficult, but if we go “all in”, it is still possible. This is one of the messages included the World Energy Council Netherlands (WEC NL) latest report, called Phasing out carbon – How to decarbonise north-western Europe’s energy mix in the run-up to 2050.

Jeroen van Hoof, chairman of WEC NL states that, “it is possible to sufficiently decarbonise the economy in north-western Europe, while maintaining industrial production and providing safe and affordable energy. However, this will require extreme efforts in the area of the transition to green gas and sufficient generation capacity for green electricity”. Equally van Hoof says; “Europe, with its unique infrastructure, ports and industry, is perfectly positioned to globally lead by example and at the same time create value, jobs and a renewed international competitive advantage”.

A year ago the WEC NL reported that north-western Europe will have to rely fully on hydrogen if we want to achieve Europe’s climate targets in thirty years’ time. The new report contains a detailed scenario on how to get there. It’s all hands on deck for that,’ says Jan Willem Velthuijsen, chief economist at PwC and coordinator of this report on behalf of the WEC NL. We will have to make the most of it across the board in order to achieve the objectives. PwC is linked to this international platform, which deals with the world energy issues of today and in the future in a broad sense.

The scenario includes three main pillars:

  • Efficiency improvements in and further electrification of energy consumption
    ‘As electrical processes have less heat loss, electrification of the economy provides increased energy efficiency. Each year we will have to save an additional 1.3% of energy,’ says Velthuijsen. “That will have to be absorbed mainly by the transport- and agricultural sectors. In industry, there is not much more room to produce more energy efficient. In the long run we will therefore have to decrease the use of fossil gas and replace it with green gas and/or hydrogen. At the same time everything we can do electric, we should convert into electric’.
  • Further generation of green energy
    “The North Sea plays a crucial role in the further transition to green energy”, according to Van Hoof. “Especially increasing offshore wind farm capacity will support the transition to green energy.”
  • Production and import of carbon-free substances for fuel and feedstock purposes
    While our electricity is becoming greener, decarbonising our fuels has not really taken off yet. This is partly caused by the high demand from industry for raw materials and electricity. Hence, in order to meet the Paris targets, we will have to start mixing biogas and hydrogen in natural gas supply immediately. Building up a considerable quantity of hydrogen is particularly important here.

    Even if north-western Europe achieves energy efficiency, electrifies to the maximum extent and decarbonises all gas consumed, a considerable amount of energy will still have to be sourced from outside Europe. As a result, import dependency will only decrease to a limited extent. Awareness around this is important as it has geopolitical and strategic implications.

Note: The WEC NL report came together with contributions of individual WEC members, being: DNV GL, EBN, New Energy Coalition, Nouryon, Vattenfall, Port of Rotterdam, Rabobank, Shell, RNO, Vopak, PwC