Policy Brief: Grid capacity needs to more than double by 2035 to meet the EU’s Paris Agreement Goals

Authored by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), this policy brief aims to identify the infrastructure and grid capacities necessary for a 100% renewable energy system. It explores a pathway that aligns with achieving climate neutrality by 2040 across the European Union 27 Member States, and securing energy supply while remaining within the +1.5°C threshold.

To keep pace with climate action, the EU must double its grid capacity by 2035 to accommodate the needed surge in renewable energy, as the latest findings from the Paris Agreement Compatible (PAC) scenario reveal. As it stands, grid infrastructure across the EU Member States is not matching the current demand for renewable generation, leading to increasing connection queues for new projects and curtailments for surplus renewable electricity.

The PAC scenario projects that in order to accommodate the renewable generation needed to meet demand, the grid transmission capacity across 25 EU Member States (excluding the islands of Malta and Cyprus) needs to increase by 47% by 2030, 131% by 2035 and 144% by 2040.

Despite the momentum behind wind and solar, the annual deployment rate for renewables needs to increase by at least 38% compared to the record year of 2023, where 74 GW of RES was added. Overall, this adds up to 100 GWs of renewable installations per year, in order to meet the EU's Paris Agreement Goals. The deployment rate would have to be even higher if the EU doesn’t take immediate and decisive measures to curb its overall energy consumption. 

“The latest findings from the PAC scenario underscores the urgency needed to modernise and expand the EU’s grid and energy infrastructure. Unlocking the door for more renewable energy generation will not only help negate climate impacts, but drastically minimise future economic, social and environmental losses. Investing in Europe’s energy infrastructure now will pay major dividends for Europeans in the long run.” - Joni Karjalainen, Energy Transition Analyst at CAN Europe.

Moreover, flexibility within the network can help alleviate grid capacity pressures, ensuring that demand and supply match at all times. On the consumption side, the PAC scenario forecasts EU Member States can collectively achieve a 51% reduction of final energy consumption by 2040. This would in turn, limit the amount of energy infrastructure needed to reach a 100% renewable, climate neutral energy system, saving costs and materials.

Overall, annual gross investment needed to meet these goals should amount to €302 billion in 2030, €400 billion in 2035 and €411 billion in 2040. Yet, the overall benefits from the Paris Agreement compatible energy demand reduction pathway would be more than three times higher than the investments needed, as it is projected that accelerated climate action can lead to direct co-benefits that amount to €1 trillion by 2030 for the EU.

“Europe has a grids problem. They risk holding the energy transition back if plans aren't upgraded. Yet we can turn this challenge into a success story. The key lies in inclusive, transparent, and participatory processes. By involving citizens, local authorities and scientific experts at an early stage, we can overcome design challenges, reduce delays and ensure that projects are developed in harmony with nature.” - Cosimo Tansini, Policy Officer for Renewables at the European Environmental Bureau.




Dimitris Tsekeris
CAN Europe


Cosimo Tansini

+32 2 289 10 90