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Deep Decarbonisation from a Biophysical Perspective: GHG Emissions of a Renewable Electricity Transformation in the EU
Di Felice, Louisa Jane (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Ripa, Maddalena (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Giampietro, Mario (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)

Date: 2018
Abstract: In light of climate change and security concerns, decarbonisation has become a priority for industrialised countries. In the European Union (EU), decarbonisation scenarios used to support decision-making predict a steady decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mostly driven by changes in production mixes and improvements in efficiency. In the EU’s decarbonisation pathways, the power sector plays a large role, reaching zero emissions by 2050. From a biophysical perspective, decarbonisation becomes not just a matter of replacing carbon-intensive with carbon-neutral electricity flows, but also a matter of building and maintaining new infrastructure (funds) which, in turn, is associated with GHG emissions. By not accounting for the emissions associated with funds, particularly those required to increase grid flexibility, scenarios used to inform decarbonisation narratives in the EU are missing a key part of the picture. We show that a rapid and deep decarbonisation of the EU’s power sector through a production-side transition between the years 2020 and 2050 leads to cumulative emissions of the order of 21–25 Gt of CO2 equivalent, within a range of approximately 35–45%. The results are obtained by modelling two decarbonisation pathways where grid flexibility increases either through storage or through curtailment. The analysis suggests that scenarios informing decarbonisation policies in the EU are optimistic and may lead to a narrow focus on sustainable production transformations. This minimises the perceived urgency of reducing overall energy consumption to stay within safe carbon budgets.
Note: Unidad de excelencia María de Maeztu MdM-2015-0552
Note: Número d'acord de subvenció EC/H2020/689669
Note: Número d'acord de subvenció MINECO/MDM-2015-0552
Rights: Aquest document està subjecte a una llicència d'ús Creative Commons. Es permet la reproducció total o parcial, la distribució, la comunicació pública de l'obra i la creació d'obres derivades, fins i tot amb finalitats comercials, sempre i quan es reconegui l'autoria de l'obra original. Creative Commons
Language: Anglès.
Document: article ; recerca ; publishedVersion
Subject: Modelling ; Science-policy interface ; Grid flexibility ; Bio-economics ; Energy transition ; Storage ; Curtailment
Published in: Sustainability, Vol. 10, Issue 10 (October 2018) , art. 3685, ISSN 2071-1050

DOI: 10.3390/su10103685


17 p, 2.1 MB

The record appears in these collections:
Research literature > UAB research groups literature > Research Centres and Groups (scientific output) > Experimental sciences > Integrated Assessment: Sociology, Technology and the Environment (IASTE)
Research literature > UAB research groups literature > Research Centres and Groups (scientific output) > Experimental sciences > Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)
Articles > Research articles
Articles > Published articles

 Record created 2018-10-17, last modified 2019-02-13



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