Wind, Solar Must Grow by 162 & 253 GW for Europe to Meet 2030 Emissions Target: WM

A new report details that for Europe to meet the 2030 emissions target, dramatic changes are needed including increased wind and solar installations

A new report by Wood Mackenzie details that while the new 2030 emissions target of Europe of seeing a 55 percent reduction over 1990 levels has made it the undisputed global leader in climate ambition. There still a long way to go for the contingent for actually achieving this rapidly approaching goal, and very dramatic changes are needed. One of which is that wind and solar power generation capacity must grow by 162 GW and 253 GW, respectively, over 2020 levels.

As noted in the report ‘Fast and Furious: Europe’s race to slash emission by 2030’, the base forecast sees the bloc falling short of its goal, delivering a 46% reduction over 1990 levels. An accelerated energy transition for the EU, consistent with limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees C, would take Europe much closer to the 2030 target. 

The reports’ 2-degrees scenario includes some sharp changes from their base-case scenario:

  • Electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids must reach 97% of the EU’s passenger vehicle sales by 2030
  • Wind and solar power generation capacity must grow by 162 GW and 253 GW, respectively, over 2020 levels – underpinned by rapid scaling of grid infrastructure.
  • Coal-plant retirements, of 85 GW by 2030, must be accelerated, alongside a carbon cost that maximises coal-to-gas switching.

However, even that 2-degree scenario only gets the EU to a 53 percent cut in emissions by 2030; it would take another two years to get to 55 percent.

Murray Douglas, Wood Mackenzie Research Director, said that “to hit the 2030 target, Europe will have to do everything we have assumed, but quicker. Moreover, as the potential to do more on renewables and EV penetration is limited, it will have to push harder in three key areas: energy efficiency and the electrification of buildings, reducing the amount of travel, and reform of the carbon market.” Wind Solar Europe Target

Further adding that “certainty over the cost of carbon by 2030 would accelerate coal phase-out plans, as it did in the UK. Renewable generation would be more competitive, and the array of projects would expand. The rapidly growing pipeline of low-carbon hydrogen projects would be bolstered, and the market would become more engaged in the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS).”

The report also detailed that investment by private capital chasing low-carbon opportunities will be key. Governments will have to ‘crowd in’ private sector investment with incentives. Such a formula has already delivered renewables growth, with feed-in-tariffs and guaranteed off-take underpinning returns for investors.

“Some of the biggest opportunities will be in the build-out of wind, solar and storage capacity, which will require US$585 billion of investment by 2030, and in the grid infrastructure needed to transform the electricity market. Europe must rapidly shift from a power market where centrally dispatched supply follows demand to one where demand can respond to an increasingly variable, weather-driven supply from renewable sources,” added Douglas.

The authors believe that European policymakers will need to make difficult and, in many cases, unpopular decisions to deliver greater emissions reductions. However, the region also hopes that its bold step will inspire other nations to do the same. Particularly in setting interim goals such as Europe’s 2030 target.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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