ECN publication
Transitie naar een duurzame energievoorziening in 2050: evolutie of revolutie?
Jeeninga, H.; Kroon, P.; Weeda, M.; Wunnik, T. van; Kipperman, T.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 1-10-2002
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-C--02-078 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
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On behalf of the General Energy Council (AER) in the Netherlands, ECNPolicy Studies, ECN Clean Fossil Fuels, Van Wunnik Energy Consultancy Plus and Kipperman Consultancy & Me-diation have carried out a study in order to determine whether or not an ambitious CO2-emission target for 2050 can be reached by means of incremental innovation (evolution) rather than by taking revolutionary measures. The emission target was set on a reduction of CO2-emissions within the Netherlands by -50% in 2050 in comparison to the 1990 emission level.

Focus point of this study is the demands imposed on the flexibility of the energy infrastructure. It is concluded that the transition towards a sustainable energy system by means of incremental innovation is possible when looking at the transition from a technical perspective. However, only by means of an effective and far-reaching management of the transition, the desired revolu-tion through evolution can be achieved. It is questionable whether or not the government is able to fulfil these tasks under current market conditions (liberalisation, privatisation).

It should be noted that achievement of the emission target by means of alternative transition trajectories, i.e. revolution instead of evolution, is even less likely. Due to the need for drastic adjustments in the energy infrastructure, the total costs of a revolution will be much higher in comparison to a transition through evolution. Also, heavy opposition from critical actors in the transition can be expected in a revolutionary process. It turns out that tuning of energy demand and the various energy sources is rather complex in case an ambitious emission target has to be reached. Therefore, an integrative system approach is needed, in which the interaction between energy production, energy demand and the demands on the flexibility of the infrastructure is considered rather than to focus solely on the impacts and demands on the infrastructure.

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