Solar power is set to generate more than 60% of EU’s electricity by 2050, report finds

Europe’s solar sector association SolarPower Europe announced the release of the report 100% Renewable Europe developed in collaboration with LUT University (LUT) that models a 100% renewables scenario for Europe to reach climate neutrality before 2050.

The report presents three transition pathways with varying levels of ambition.

The main finding is that the 100% renewable scenarios result in lower per unit energy costs and show that achieving climate neutrality by 2050 is more cost-effective compared to a lower level of ambition.

According to the report solar PV and wind represent the two main pillars of the energy transition, supplying over 90% of power demand in the long run. Due to its unique versality, capable of being installed in any size for distributed and centralised applications, and combined with its strong cost-competitiveness, solar generates over 60% of the electricity in both 100% renewable scenarios, modelled for 2040 (Leadership) and 2050 (Moderate). At this penetration level, solar would create over 4 million jobs in Europe by 2050.

Some key findings from the report include:

  1. A 100% renewable energy system enables the EU to become climate neutral before 2050, complying with an ambitious 1.5°C Paris Agreement target, and without resorting to carbon sinks. SolarPower Europe and LUT’s modelling shows that it is possible for Europe to reach 100% renewables by 2050 in a Moderate scenario, and by 2040 in a Leadership scenario.
  2. A 100% renewable energy system is the most cost-effective way of becoming climate neutral by 2050. The cumulative costs of achieving a 100% renewable energy by 2050 in the Moderate scenario are 6% lower than the cost of inadequate action in the less ambitious Laggard scenario, which reaches only 62% renewables by 2050, thus missing both the targets of European climate neutrality and the Paris Agreement.
  3. A 100% renewable energy system is primarily a solar story. In both of the modelled 100% renewable scenarios, solar generates more than 60% of EU electricity by 2050. In the long run, solar and wind are the two main pillars of the European energy transition. Due to its higher capacity factors, wind energy provides the highest shares of electricity generation up to 2030, however, solar’s versatility and cost-competitiveness will make it the main source of electricity generation from 2030 onwards.

Source: Press Release by SolarPower Europe. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy via Flickr (U.S. Government Works).