«We need to decarbonize the power sector as rapidly as possible and extend electrification as much as possible», Lord Adair Turner said at the breakfast debate The future is electric: Clean energy for eMobility. Turner chairs the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC), and was one of the keynote speakers at the Statnett event on 28 November in Brussels.
Turner was invited to present the findings in the report Better Energy, Greater Prosperity, which lays out transition pathways to limit global warming well below two degrees while ensuring economic prosperity. The report stresses the feasibility of halving carbon emissions by 2040 and at the same time securing energy to a larger part of the world's population.
«We accept the challenge of an increase in energy consumption in the world», Adair Turner said.
«Still we have to reduce emissions from the energy sector, and we believe this is possible. The report looks at how to do this in the period up to 2040».
In addition to clean electrification, the report also focuses on energy productivity and reducing emissions from sectors that cannot be easily or cost-effectively electrified.
«The definite thing we need to get on with is decarbonizing the energy sector. Some people argue that flexibility is a problem, but we are certain that in the future you can build a system based on renewables», Turner concluded.
Statnett a living proof
This statement was supported by Statnett's CEO, Auke Lont, who is one of the ETC’s commissioners, and hosted the debate in Brussels.
«Statnett is the living proof that this is possible», Lont said.
«Just look at Norway and Denmark. When Denmark does not have enough wind power to secure its energy needs, they can back this up with hydropower through interconnectors from Norway. Hence, the system is already working.»
Around 60 percent of Norway's energy consumption is based on renewable energy, and the power is 100% renewable. Production from hydropower and wind power in Norway in a normal year extends the consumption, and the country exchanges power through interconnectors to Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Russia. Within a few years, two new interconnectors to Germany and the UK will be in operation. Auke Lont is also part of the Commission Expert Group on electricity interconnection targets, which has recently launched the report Towards a sustainable and integrated Europe.
«So what do we need to do as a system operator? We need to strengthen our grid, including interconnectors to our neighboring countries. We need smarter systems, where the demand side will play a larger role, and we need better markets - the carbon market being an important example. We have a vision; the future is electric», Lont told attendants at the debate.
Electrification a key element
This view is also supported by the World Energy Outlook 2017, which was recently published by the International Energy Agency. Here, the IEA states that the future is electrifying, and hereby supports that there is a need to enhance the use of electricity to secure the world's need for energy in the years to come.
Also attending the debate was Artur Runger-Metzger from DG Climate Action in the EU Commission, who discussed the importance of electrifying the transport sector. He was satisfied with the new goals for eMobility across the world, including from countries and regions, as well as car producers.
Laurence Tubiana, CEO for European Climate Foundation and ETC commissioner, supported the views of other panellists, and highlighted the potential of electricity and hydrogen to enable substantial reductions of emissions from transport. She also stressed the need for immediate action on decarbonizing the power system, with technology readily available and falling costs, and called on governments to make things happen as Europe is currently behind the curve.