ECN and NRG publish Energy Vision 2050

Wednesday November 7, 2007 10:29

Major policy efforts can lead to a sustainable future in Europe   A sustainable energy system in Europe is achievable by 2050, but it will not be easy. Major shifts in the energy system are required to reduce the risks related to climate change and to guarantee the security and affordability of energy supply in the long run. With climate and energy policy high on the EU agenda, the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and the Nuclear Research and consultancy Group (NRG) have published a vision of a sustainable European energy system in 2050. Starting point is a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions and considerably lower imports of oil and gas.

A portfolio of technologies
The vision is that, by 2050, renewable energy sources will account for more than 35% of the total energy supply, with biomass, wind and solar energy taking leading roles. Considerable progress will be realised in energy conservation. The contribution of nuclear energy is stable. Coal with CO2 capture will be applied for the production of both electricity and hydrogen. The hydrogen will be used in the transport sector. Biomass will primarily be used as fuel for freight transport and in industry, as there are few other substitutes for oil products in these sectors. The energy needs of dwellings and other buildings will have been greatly reduced, and will primarily be met with solar energy and electricity. Even by 2050 there still will be opportunities for further energy savings and it will be necessary to further develop renewable energy sources. However, the major shortcomings of the current energy system will have been overcome.

Additional requirements
Not all energy sources in use by 2050 will be fully sustainable. Conditions have to be formulated particularly for nuclear energy, biomass and CO2 capture & storage to guarantee their responsible use as part of a sustainable energy system. If these conditions are complied with, we will meet realistic and achievable standards of sustainability. No single option should be excluded prematurely, considering the size of the challenges to be met.

ECN CEO Ton Hoff: “Al Gore presented the wake up call with his movie An inconvenient truth. We present an ambitious, but realistic vision of a sustainable future. We think Europe can achieve this in 2050 if we pull every resource we have. It is not going to be easy. We will have to focus strongly on the development and deployment of new technologies, such as affordable solar cells and smart electricity grids, and I am confident we will experience many breakthroughs. But we will face many disappointments as well. Some promising energy technologies will prove to be dead ends. That is why we need to buy time with reliable capture & storage of CO2, nuclear energy and transition (bio)fuels.”

Effective and stable policy framework
These changes will only be successful if they are combined with strict policies, new organisational forms and changes in behaviour patterns. Europe requires consistent and effective policies with close cooperation between governments, businesses and citizens.
Hoff: “Given the number of years required for energy technologies to become mature and competitive, it is essential that policymakers hold on to course and that there is a prolonged sense of urgency among the general public. It is also important that the private sector can operate within a clear and stable policy framework that provides reliable pricing signals. Finally, to really limit the consequences of climate change, it is necessary that other world regions also take action. The chances for such action increase if clean energy technology becomes available and affordable on a global scale.” 

This summary is from the publication 'Energy Vision 2050' by ECN NRG. The Energy Research Centre Netherlands (ECN) and the Nuclear Research & consultancy Group (NRG) in Petten have developed the 'Energy Vision 2050' in order to provide direction for government and businesses in the fields of energy research and energy and environmental policy.

'Energy Vision 2050' can be downloaded at the ECN and NRG website.

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Notes for the editors:
'Energy Vision 2050' is available at the ECN and NRG websites and  For more information, please contact Martine Uyterlinde, ECN Policy Studies, telephone +31 (0)224 56 4347 or e-mail Or contact Frans Stravers, Head of Communications, telephone +31 (0)224 56 4136/4449 or e-mail:

Category: Corporate