The Renewable Energy Roadmap for the Central and South-Eastern Europe energy connection (CESEC) initiative, released in early November 2020, shows that accelerating the uptake of renewables in the region could save CESEC citizens €3 billion per year in energy costs.
The International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) path for the CESEC region estimates that €78 billion in funding will be needed by 2030 in order to allow CESEC members to build a stable energy system that is not only less reliant on fossil fuels but will also be able to deliver energy at competitive costs.
A photograph, taken at night from space, of Europe’s electricity usage. Image Credit: Bigstock.
A Huge Potential for Renewable Energy
Central and South-Eastern Europe have great potential for renewable energy according to IRENA director-general Francesco La Camera.
Said the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson: “Renewables can reduce the region’s energy bill to the benefit of citizens and industry while improving energy security [and] air quality, and aligning the region with long-term decarbonisation goals of the Paris Agreement. Renewables also provide countries with a cost-effective way out of fossil fuels and towards a modern, resilient and sustainable energy future.”
IRENA says that all CESEC members have the potential to accelerate the deployment of renewables during the next decade well beyond current policies. By doing so and stepping up capacity, the share of renewables in CESEC members could rise to as much as 23%—with the potential to rise even further to 56% in 2030.
A New Offshore Renewables Plan
Following on from the said report (published in early October 2020) is an announcement from the European Commission (EC). This unveils plans for an €800 billion plan, which will lead to a huge expansion of offshore wind farms. Announced on the 19th of November 2020, the EC’s strategy will tap into the EU’s maritime potential, particularly by developing renewable energy through the significant expansion of offshore wind farms and other related technologies.
At present, almost one-third of all electricity consumed in the EU originates from renewable sources; however, if the European Union is to meet its climate targets, this will need to rise to around 60% of all power by 2030 and more than 80% by 2050.
An offshore wind farm. Image Credit: Paul Langrock, Siemens.
Offshore wind itself only represents around 2% of European electricity consumption, which is why the EC aims to increase the EU’s wind energy production offshore—growing it to at least 60 gigawatts of capacity by 2030, and 300 gigawatts by 2050. This will represent a 2,500% increase from its current offshore wind capacity of 12 gigawatts.
Future Estimates by the European Commission
According to the EC, all of Europe’s seas (from the North Sea to the Black Sea, and from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean), hold potential for renewable energy production. Indeed, the latter two are currently seen as promising areas for emerging innovations, such as floating offshore wind and wave and tidal energy technologies.
The European Commission estimates that investments in both onshore and offshore grids in Europe need to increase to above €60 billion by 2030—similar to IRENA’s estimates—and then increase further to above €800 billion by 2050.
In the meantime, the EU’s energy legislation will need to be revised to attract further investment and streamline the connection of offshore farms to multiple countries.