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ECN publication
A sustainable energy system in 2050: Promise or possibility?
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 7-11-2007
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--07-082 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
48 Download PDF  

Energy policy is facing major challenges. Industrial countries are increasingly dependent on imports of oil and gas, and global warming is becoming more of a reality. In order to address these challenges, a sustainable energy system must be developed. This document presents an outline of a sustainable energy situation for Europe in the year 2050. The research institutes ECN and NRG hope that this vision will guide energy research and inspire both businesses and governments. The authors describe a consistent development path that leads to a reduction in CO2 emissions in Europe to 60% below 1990 levels, and to a signifi cantly reduced level of oil and gas imports. However, in 2050 the energy system will not be completely sustainable. The authors have formulated additional sustainability conditions for the reliable use of nuclear energy, biomass, and CO2 capture & storage in a sustainable energy system. If these conditions are complied with, the overall picture will meet realistic criteria of sustainability. Despite this, continued energy conservation and further development of renewables should be pursued after 2050. In the vision for 2050 presented here, much weight is given to new technologies, new resources and new energy infrastructure. In addition to such innovation, new ways of decision-making and new patterns of behaviour are essential. With respect to technological developments that result in, for instance, affordable solar cells, the deployment of second-generation biofuels and reliable CO2 capture & storage, realistic judgements have been made as to the timing of their commercialisation. The technology policy required to bring about such technological developments is briefly outlined.

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