European Commission calculations on energy future called into question

» By | Published 26 Oct 2011

A leading German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), has reported on a leaked European Commission document on energy futures for 2050, saying that the European Commission’s calculations could be questionable.

In the leaked document – containing seven energy scenarios for 2050 – only the ‘high renewable energy’ scenario shows electricity prices to rise after 2030. In all the other scenarios electricity prices decrease after 2030.

But, according to the FAZ article, the Commission’s calculation for this scenario includes a highly debatable element.

The cost of the high renewables scenario includes the cost of both renewable energy and the cost of keeping fossil fuel and nuclear plants almost dormant – that is to say they could be active for only 20-50% of the time. Turning such huge operations on and off is, of course, very expensive and that is why this scenario is the most expensive, not because of the cost of renewables themselves, the article suggests.

As Christian Kjaer, EWEA’s CEO pointed out in a letter to the Financial Times, no sensible person would invest in a fossil or nuclear fuel plant to keep it running half of the time, or less. “In reality no one is going to build fossil fuel plants to run them infrequently”, he said.

By 2050, the EU could have a fully interconnected electricity grid bringing high amounts of renewable power online without the need for costly nuclear and fossil fuel plants as back up. A fully interconnected grid would deliver power from where the supply is to where the demand is throughout Europe.