The latest scenarios from Europe’s transmission system operators (ENTSOs) provide key insights on the EU’s route to climate neutrality, but fall short of credible net zero plans for 2050.
Consensus has started to grow around carbon-free power by 2035 as a key milestone for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, established through the seminal IEA Net Zero Report and supported by recent announcements from the US and UK. Accelerating the decarbonisation of the power sector is a critical step in the early phases of the clean energy transition. In the following analysis we assess the latest draft TYNDP (Ten-Year Network Development Plan) pathways developed by the ENTSOs against this objective.
The TYNDP is a key tool used by decision-makers for long-term electricity and gas infrastructure planning. Ember’s analysis of the latest TYNDP pathways reveals there is a serious risk that infrastructure planning based on these scenarios will inadequately prepare the EU for the energy transition and risks directing public funds towards costly energy assets which are incompatible with the EU’s climate targets.
Ember’s analysis highlights the following points of concern in the draft TYNDP pathways:
1. All scenarios see the EU miss the crucial milestone of carbon-free electricity by 2035
2. In fact, emissions from the power sector decline by just 50% between 2020 and 2035 in the two scenarios designed to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement
3. The scenario based on national energy plans (which guides public funding for infrastructure) sees natural gas used for power generation little changed by 2040
4. National energy system operators are planning the 2030 electricity grid using demand figures ~20% lower than those expected in the Paris Agreement compatible scenarios
5. Overall, the scenarios see the EU overshoot its carbon budget by 29-87% by 2050
Detailed Ember analysis of the Draft Scenarios Report, which is open for consultation until 18th November 2021, can be found in the slide pack below.
Why do the scenarios matter?
The TYNDP scenarios inform decision-makers and private investors on what new electricity and gas infrastructure projects are required to support the clean and secure energy transition in Europe.
Indeed, the TEN-E Regulation designates the TYNDP as the sole basis for the selection of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) and thus the allocation of a large pot of EU public funds. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF-Energy) has a budget of Eur 5.8 billion for 2021-2027 (25% larger than that for the period 2014-2020), which is available only to energy infrastructure projects awarded PCI status. PCIs also benefit from priority access to European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) and financial support from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Given the long lifetimes of energy assets (infrastructure coming online now will be used for the next 30 years, on average), the decisions made today will determine the evolution of the European power sector over the next thirty years, and thus, its decarbonisation pathway.
Therefore, the TYNDP provides key insights into the credibility of the EU’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2050.
What is the Ten-Year Network Development Plan?
Energy infrastructure is a key enabler for decarbonising the electricity grid and the energy sector more widely. The rapid deployment of renewable and efficient energy technologies over the next 15 years requires parallel massive investments in electricity grids. This includes grid expansion and reinforcement, new interconnections, and the development of green hydrogen production and transmission infrastructure.
The Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP), developed biennially by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity and Gas (ENTSOs), is used to identify these future power systems needs for the integrated European electricity and gas systems. It is a key tool used by decision-makers and private investors to develop an energy infrastructure plan which will enable a clean and secure energy transition, and direct financial flows accordingly.
The TYNDP provides a vision of the possible evolution of the European power sector, projecting energy supply and demand between now and 2050. Three scenarios are provided to explore possible variations in the evolution of the energy sectors: National Trends (reflects national policies), Distributed Energy and Global Ambition (two different decarbonisation pathways, self-developed by the ENTSOs, which reflect the EU’s commitment to -55% GHG emissions by 2030, net-zero in 2050 and aims to limit average global temperature increase to 1.5℃).
The most recent 30-year energy outlook can be seen in the draft TYNDP 2022 Scenarios Report. This was published on 7th October 2021 for public consultation, which closes on 18th November 2021.
All stakeholders are invited to provide their feedback on the scenario framework here. Based on the feedback provided, the ENTSOs will update and develop the scenarios further to be used in the Final TYNDP 2022 Scenario Report (to be released in early 2022)