The European Commission underlined the importance of better linking up our energy system and exploit the synergies enabled by an integrated energy system.
The European Green Deal unveiled last year aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Furthermore, early in March, the Commission made a proposal for a new legislation that would bind Member States to the target of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.
To date, Europe has made significant progress in decarbonising its electricity production. But progress has been slower in other sectors and for other forms of energy (gas, liquid fuels, heat) and fossil fuels remain predominantly used in transport, industry, buildings and agriculture.
First of all, the European Commission sees opportunities to increase the use of (renewable and low-carbon) electricity via electrification of sectors that currently still rely on fossil fuels. Examples are the use of electric vehicles in transport, or of heat pumps for heating buildings.
Secondly, fossil-based gases and fuels can be replaced by renewable and decarbonised gases and fuels, especially in hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as air transport or certain industrial processes. Hydrogen produced from renewable electricity will play a key role in this context, together with the replacement of natural gas by biomethane produced from agricultural wastes, achieving thus a progressive decarbonisation of the gas sector.
Finally, Europe’s energy sector can become more circular and make full use of the energy efficiency first principle. This is not only about reducing the consumption, but also about the overall efficiency of everyone’s energy system.
However, several barriers still prevent this potential from fully materialising and allowing citizens and industry to embrace cleaner energy alternatives. The objective of the new initiative of the Commission is to strengthen the necessary links across different sectors in the energy systems and to use every opportunity to reduce emissions.
A strategy for smart sector integration for a future integrated European energy system will be presented by June 2020