WWF calls for 45% wind energy and solar power in EU electricity mix by 2030

“Re-energising Europe: Putting the EU on Track for 100% Renewable Energy” caps the contribution of wind power and solar energy at 45% of electricity supply at that date.

The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) has released a report which finds that the EU can and must meet 35% of its heating needs and 65% of its electricity needs with renewable energy by 2030 in order to reach a society powered 100% by renewable energy in 2050.

By 2030, the EU could be reducing its energy use by more than a third and generate almost half of the remainder from renewables. The post-2020 climate and energy policies needed to deliver this vision would help the EU to reduce its €573bn external fossil fuel bill and cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half.

Coming amid an increasingly active debate over what should follow current EU climate and energy legislation (the 20-20-20 package), WWF’s report adapts the WWF Global 2050 Energy Scenario to the EU27 level and shows that by 2030 the EU could:

• use at least 38% less energy compared to a business as usual projection,
• generate more than 40% of its energy from renewable sources,
• by doing both, reduce its energy related greenhouse emissions by 50% compared to 1990 levels.

As Europe’s economies struggle to recover, renewable energy and energy savings are beacons of hope. Almost 8 out of 10 Europeans agree that fighting climate change can boost the economy and create jobs and 70% of Europeans believe investment in renewable energy should be prioritised over the next 30 years, compared to alternative energy sources including shale gas, nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants .

The report also states that on-going effort and strong political will are needed to reach these goals.

“We must now decide how our energy system will develop after 2020, so that current benefits are maximized, not squandered,” added Jason Anderson, head of climate & energy at WWF’s European policy office.

“Our report clearly shows that the EU has untapped potential for cutting energy use, taking full advantage of renewable sources that could deliver cheaper and more secure energy, and ensuring that a 100% renewable European energy system by 2050 remains within reach.”

This 45% upper limit on wind energy and solar power is based on an assumption that energy storage and other technologies to mitigate the inherent variability and intermittency of wind and solar resources will not be widely deployed by 2030.

“While significant effort is already required to manage this level of variable supply, additional investment could increase the use of variable renewable energy sources, and thereby increase renewable energy supply overall,” notes the report.

This level is similar to conclusions reached by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL, Golden, Colorado, US) in a May 2010 report.

“Western Wind and Solar Integration Study” found that a five-state grid in the Western US could accommodate 30% wind and 5% solar without significant new energy storage or transmission.

However the WWF differs by including much more solar energy in the mix. The report’s 2030 scenario assumes 2.0 EJ of power from solar photovoltaics (PV) annually, 0.2 EJ of concentrating solar power (CSP) and 2.6 EJ of power from combined onshore and offshore wind energy.