The European Commission (EC) has outlined a new approach to moving to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy by 2050. It says this would cost perhaps €1.42 trillion per annum. Much of that would have to be spent anyway, however, to replace existing capital items, including power plants and vehicles. And, if geared to a net-zero emission target, that investment would reduce and avoid some costs, using energy more efficiently and phasing out the use of increasingly expensive fossil fuels. In conclusion, the EC stresses the need for more sinks and says “reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions will require maximizing the potential of technological and circular economy options, the large-scale deployment of natural land-based carbon sinks including in the agricultural and forestry sectors as well as shifts in mobility patterns”. That means pushing nearly all the policy and technology buttons, and the EC also retains nuclear, with around a 15% contribution, although, oddly, it says little more about that in the main report. It seems more interested in talking about “Power to X” and e-fuels, and carbon sinks. The new EC plan is certainly bold. It may still include nuclear but it is talking about a net-zero emission target for 2050 for the entire EU, and that is pretty radical. In my next post I look at the situation globally — at progress so far, and at some of the latest high-renewables non-nuclear scenarios.
Physics World 20th March 2019 read more »