3

Special Focus: Pathways towards a decarbonised economy

3.2 COP 21 scenarios – a carbon budget approach

Below +1.5° C at the end of the century with a carbon budget

Distributed Energy (DE) and Global Ambition (GA) (also referred to as “COP21 Scenarios”) scenarios are meant to assess sensible pathways to reach the target set by the Paris Agreement for the COP 21: 1.5° C or at least well below 2° C by the end of the century. For the purpose of the TYNDP scenarios, this target has been translated by ENTSO-E and ENTSOG into a carbon budget to stay below +1.5° C at the end of the century with a 66.7 % probability².

A carbon budget defined with environmental organisations

To limit the global warming to +1.5° C by the end of the century, there is a maximum quantity of GHG the EU – including the energy system – can emit. This defines the carbon budget for the EU, and to a more restrictive extent, the share allocated to the energy system that the COP 21 scenarios consider. To define the carbon budget until the year 2100, ENTSO-E and ENTSOG have worked with the environmental NGOs Renewable Grid Initiative and Climate Action Network Europe.

A carbon neutral energy system by 2050

The other objective set in the COP 21 scenarios is to reach carbon neutrality of the energy system by 2050. This objective therefore places further demands on the speed of decarbonisation the energy system should reach.

Carbon neutrality can be reached by 2050 within a budget of 63.5 GtCO2

Both Distributed Energy and Global Ambition scenarios show that a centralised or decentralised evolution of the energy system can achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The scenarios also show that, considering different development of technologies – and starting from 2018 onwards – the energy system can limit its emissions to reach not more than 63.5 GtCO2 at EU level until 2050 in Global Ambition, and not more than 62.6 GtCO2 in Distributed Energy.

… but up to 15 GtCO2 must be compensated after 2050

However, the scenario budget defined to limit the global warming to 1.5° C with a 66.7 % probability considers that the cumulative EU GHG emissions should be limited to 48.5 GtCO2 by the end of the 21st century. This means net negative emissions of 15 GtCO2 have to be achieved between 2050 and 2100 in case of Global Ambition, provided the EU is carbon neutral in 2050.

For Distributed Energy, due to lower cumulative emissions until 2050, 14.1 GtCO2 of net negative emissions are needed to reach the 1.5° C target by 2100.

² The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Special Report, 2018, https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

³ “Carbon neutrality (or net zero) means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration. In order to achieve net zero emissions, all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions will have to be counterbalanced by carbon sequestration”(European Parliament). The ENTSOs consider all green house gas emissions measured in terms of their carbon dioxide equivalence.

GHG emissions compared to 1990 level

Figure 2

Figure 2: GHG emissions in ENTSOs‘ Scenarios

EU 28 cummulative GHG emissions – Global Ambition

Figure 3a
 2020202520302035204020452050
Cumulative non-CO₂ emissions1,5255,0868,28511,12313,59915,71317,467
Cumulative CO₂ emissions6,78122,28635,15945,16052,66958,29562,575
Cummulative credits from pre- and postcombstive CCU/S and BECCS00-149-629-1,426-2,780-4,901
Cumulative credits from BECCS00000-178-731
Cumulative credits from LULUCF-627-2,253-3,963-5,757-7,635-9,598-11,644
Net Cumulative CO₂eq emissions7,67925,11939,33249,89657,20661,63163,497

EU 28 cummulative GHG emissions – Distributed Energy

Figure 3b
 2020202520302035204020452050
Cumulative non-CO₂ emissions1,5255,0868,28511,12313,59915,71317,467
Cumulative CO₂ emissions6,80122,44135,49045,37852,15456,39158,704
Cummulative credits from pre- and postcombstive CCU/S and BECCS00-59-272-657-1,201-1,890
Cumulative credits from BECCS00000-178-731
Cumulative credits from LULUCF-627-2,253-3,963-5,757-7,635-9,598-11,644
Net Cumulative CO₂eq emissions7,69925,27439,75250,47157,46061,30662,636

Figure 3: EU28 Cummulative Emissions in Cop21 Scenarios in MTCO2

3.3 Sector-Coupling – an enabler for (full) decarbonisation

For the ENTSOs, sector coupling describes interlinkages between gas and electricity production and infrastructure. Major processes in this regard are gas-fired power generation, Power-to-Gas (P2G) and hybrid demand technologies.

ENTSOs’ scenarios are dependent on further development of sector coupling, without these interlinkages a high or even full decarbonisation in the energy sector will not be reached.

Assuming a switch from carbon-intensive coal to natural gas in 2025, 150 MtCO2 could be avoided in the power generation. With increasing shares of renewable and decarbonised gases, gas-fired power plants become the main “back-up” for variable RES in the long-term. Distributed Energy even shows a further need for CCS for gas power plants to reach its ambitious target of full decarbonisation in power generation by 2040.

On the other hand, P2G becomes an enabler for the integration of variable RES and an option to decarbonise the gas supply. Hydrogen and synthetic methane allow for carbon-neutral energy use in the final sectors. Distributed Energy is the scenario with the highest need for P2G, requiring 840 TWh of power generation per year with more than 300 GW of capacities for wind and solar in 2040 to produce renewable gas.

Sector coupling in National Trends, with the assumption that P2G generation is limited to “curtailed electricity”, considers 35 TWh of power generation with 30 GW of P2G to produce renewable gas.

 <20502050>2050Total
Energy and non-energy related CO2 emissions62.4Carbon-­NeutralityAdditional measures needed, e.g.:
LULUCF
BECCS
CCS
DAC
Non-CO2 GHG emissions (including methane and Fluorinated gases)*17.5
Carbon sinks**-16.5
Net cumulative
emissions
63.5-15EU28 carbon budget share based on its population
48.5 GtCO

* Data for methane and fluorinated gases emissions is taken from the European Commission’s most ambitious 1.5Tech and 1.5Life scenarios (average) as published in the “A Clean Planet for all”- Study
** Data for LULUFC is taken from the European Commission’s most ambitious 1.5Tech and 1.5Life scenarios (average) as published in the “A Clean Planet for all”- Study

Table 1: Cummulative emissions and required net negative emissions in Global Ambition