Scenario Development

 

How to explore the scenario and navigate this page

This page provides a web-friendly overview of the PAC scenario. Scrolling down, you will find an introduction based on key assumptions, key findings and visual elements from each chapter. It is important to note that this page features only selected highlights. To read the entire Scenario text, there is the option to download the entire scenario (below), or individual chapters (through a download link in each sub-section).

There are three main chapters, which are in turn broken down into sub-chapters. These are:

  1. Sector-specific energy demand
  2. Energy supply
  3. Reaching the Paris Agreement 1.5°C target

For a list of abbreviations and units, glossary, annexes and references within footnotes, please see the downloadable scenario summary.

The PAC Scenario - Technical Summary of Key Elements

The PAC scenario was developed by CAN Europe and the EEB under the banner of the PAC project. At its core, the Scenario is an attempt to construct a European-wide energy scenario which is aligned with the Paris Agreement’s objective to limit global warming to 1.5°C and which embodies the policy demands of civil society. In doing this, it suggests a trajectory with:

  • 100% renewable energy supply by 2040
  • At least 65% greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) reductions by the year 2030
  • Net-zero emissions by 2040.

The numbers presented here are based on desk research, as well as comparing and adopting elements of a multitude of existing studies and models. As such, the PAC scenario is a bottom-up collective research exercise. EEB and CAN Europe gathered feedback on key assumptions through a series of five workshops, two webinars and an online survey. Around 150 different stakeholders from member organisations, science and industry were involved in the scenario building process through these events or bilateral exchanges. For more information on the data used in the scenario, please get in touch with Jörg Mühlenhoff (CAN Europe) joerg@caneurope.org and Jonathan Bonadio (EEB) jonathan.bonadio@eeb.org.

The PAC scenario remains a living document. It is a first comprehensive climate and energy roadmap for European policy-makers drafted by a broad range of civil society organisations. Yet, CAN Europe and the EEB know that many questions still need to be answered. We would therefore appreciate to continue this collective research exercise for Europe’s energy and climate future on the basis of this document. Feedback can be provided through the Feedback Page on this website.

Two additional documents will be instrumental for the reception, implications and continuation of the PAC project. Firstly, the Policy Brief includes a list of recommendations for policymakers to take account of, whose implementation would help us in reaching a Paris Compatible energy future for Europe. Secondly, the Outlook Document addresses open questions in the PAC Scenario as well as discussing next steps for the future of the project. These can be downloaded below.


Executive summary

The key elements of the PAC scenario are:

  1. A mobilisation of energy savings potentials through accelerating deep renovation of buildings and a modernisation of industrial production processes. The increase of energy efficiency in transport is also a main contribution. This leads to halving the EU’s energy demand between 2015 and 2050.
  2. A swift ramping up of domestic renewable energy use, in particular of solar PV and wind energy for electricity production. Renewable electricity generation triples during the decade from 2020 to 2030. This leads to renewables covering 50% of gross final energy consumption in 2030 and 100% in 2040.
  3. An electrification of industrial processes, heating and transport, based on renewable electricity. Heat pumps and electric vehicles are key technologies that will progressively dominate buildings and roads in the 2030s.
  4. A quick phase-out of fossil fuels, starting with coal mostly disappearing from the mix by 2030, fossil gas by 2035 and fossil oil products by 2040. Most nuclear power plants also will be closed by 2040.
  5. A limited role for non-fossil gases and fuels which are based exclusively on renewable hydrogen. These synthetic gases and fuels produced through electrolysis are essential for decarbonising industry and aviation, besides a smaller and declining contribution of sustainably sourced biogas and biomethane.

In view of the EU climate and energy targets for the year 2030, the PAC scenario shows that the current level of ambition can be raised substantially:

  •  The current EU target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% compared to 1990 can be updated to 65% emission reductions.
  • The current EU energy efficiency target of 32.5% also can be outperformed. The PAC scenario leads to at least 45% energy savings as compared to PRIMES 2007 projections for both primary and final energy.
  •  The current EU renewable energy target of 32% share of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption can be increased to at least a 50% renewable energy share.

Chapter 1: Sector-specific energy demand

 

In a first step, the PAC scenario assesses the evolution of the final energy demand of five sectors (industry, residential, tertiary, agriculture and transport). The energy savings potentials of the sectors as well as their specific demand for different energy carriers differ strongly. This page will feature brief summaries and key findings from each chapter. Each chapter can be downloaded in its entirety through the provided link, or the entire document above.

The two below graphics show final EU28 energy demand across sectors and by energy source respectively.


1.1. Industry

Industrial transformation implies a reduction of material demand through higher reuse and recycling rates. The implementation of circular economy approaches, together with energy efficiency increase will lead this reduction. Wherever possible, production processes become electrified through direct use of renewable electricity. For the needs of some sectors a significant increase of renewable hydrogen and, to a minor extent, synthetic methane is required.

Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

Key results

  • Thanks to reduced demand and electrification with renewables, industry can already achieve a 100% renewable energy supply in 2040.
  • Electricity constitutes more than 60% of industry’s final energy demand in 2040.
  • The demand for gaseous energy carriers falls to less than a quarter of final energy demand in 2040, covered by renewable hydrogen and to a minor extent by synthetic methane, biomethane and biogas.

1.2. Residential sector

Technology changes and behavioural changes both bear sufficient potential to drive down the residential sector’s final energy demand by more than two thirds between 2015 and 2050.  An increase in the annual renovation rate and depth of renovation of the EU building stock, as well as high efficiency of new constructions, replacement of inefficient heating systems and new societal trends are key contributing factors in the reduction of this sector's energy demand

Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

Key results

  • Compared to other sectors, the residential sector brings about the strongest reduction in final energy demand, through deep renovation, as well as by new societal trends.
  • Electricity constitutes 53% of final energy demand in 2040. Demand for fossil fuels disappears after 2035 while district heating and heat pumps take over most of the demand.
  • The demand for gaseous energy carriers beyond 2035 is limited to marginal amounts of biomethane for cooking. No demand for renewable hydrogen neither for synthetic methane is expected in the residential sector.

    1.3. Tertiary sector

    In accordance with the residential sector, the tertiary sector cuts its energy demand with the help of technology changes and behavioural changes. Final energy demand decreases by almost two thirds between 2015 and 2050.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    • With 54% less final energy demand in 2050 compared to 2015, the reduction in the tertiary sector is significant but not to the same extent as in the residential sector. It is enabled by increased deep renovation, as well as by societal trends (building automation, digitalisation and behavioural changes).
    • Electricity constitutes 67% of final energy demand in 2040. Demand for fossil fuels disappears after 2035 while district heating and heat pumps take over most of the demand.
    • The demand for gaseous energy carriers beyond 2035 is limited to marginal amounts for cooking. No demand for renewable hydrogen neither for synthetic methane is expected in the tertiary sector.

    1.4. Agriculture

    Final energy demand of the agriculture sector decreases by 63% between 2015 and 2050 due to renovation of the building stock and higher energy efficiency of processes and machinery. Fossil fuel demand for farming machinery is largely substituted by electricity and partly by sustainably sourced liquid biofuels.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       The agriculture sector mobilises comparably high energy savings likewise the residential and tertiary sector. Final energy demand drops by 63% in 2050 compared to 2015.

    ·       Overall electricity demand decreases slightly despite electrification of space heating, hot water, processes and pumping devices. The first reason is the lower heat demand, the second one is the higher energy efficiency of appliances and machinery.

    ·       In 2040, 36% of final energy demand is electricity. Demand for fossil fuels disappears after 2035. A relatively high demand for bioenergy is preserved given the availability of sustainably sourced solid biomass and biogas for direct use on premises.


    1.5. Transport

    Due to efficiency considerations and given the decreasing cost of renewable electricity and battery storage, in transport, fuel switching to direct electrification has been prioritised. Aside from renewable electricity, renewable hydrogen, ammonia and liquid synthetic fuels also play a limited role for some transport modes.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    • Transport will move from a 90% fossil-based to a 100% renewable energy mix in the next 20 years.
    • Biofuels demand will be halved by 2040, moved to second-generation and strictly dedicated to aviation.
    • Direct use of electricity will represent around two thirds of the transport fuel mix.

    Chapter 2: Energy Supply

    After having calculated sector-specific energy demand, the next step was to calculate the primary energy supply which will meet this in the future. Primary energy covers consumption of the energy sector itself, losses during transformation (i.a. from gas into electricity) and distribution of energy, and the final consumption by end users.

    The PAC Scenario anticipates that total supply of primary energy will halve from 2015 to 2050 with renewables becoming the major source by 2030. Solar PV and wind by then also supply most electricity, covering an increasing direct demand and the additional electricity demand for producing non-fossil gases through electrolysis (see “final electricity demand”).

    The two below graphics show final EU28 energy demand across sectors and by energy source respectively.


    2.1 Phasing out coal

    It is as indispensable as it is inevitable that most of the hard coal and lignite consumption will be phased-out by the year 2030. Neither retrofitting of existing coal capacities nor new mines are considered economically viable. The introduction of CCS is not considered realistic.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       NGOs’ policy demand of phasing out coal by 2030 will mostly be implemented: In electricity generation, renewables and the carbon price drive the quick phase-out in almost all Member States by 2030. Support schemes such as capacity mechanisms can delay this trend only by a few years.

    ·       Poland and Germany are the two Member States that dominate the remaining hard coal and lignite capacities. In 2030, Czechia produces 1 TWh, Poland 2 TWh and Germany 4 TWh of electricity from coal.

    ·       As the use of coal in industry is mainly concentrated in a limited number of energy-intensive steel production sites, their gradual modernisation during normal investment cycles will bring about a switch from coal to renewable electricity and hydrogen (see also chapter 1.1 on industry’s energy demand).


    2.2 Phasing out fossil gas

    The continued use of fossil gas puts the EU’s climate and energy goals at risk. In addition to the decreasing demand for electricity generation and in buildings, an active fossil gas phase-out by 2035 needs to be pursued.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    • Electricity generation from fossil gas decreases by 84% from 2015 to 2035. Fossil gas is not needed as a “bridge fuel”. Immediate leap-frogging from coal to renewable electricity generation is possible.
    • Renovation pushes fossil gas out of buildings’ energy supply. Final energy demand for fossil gas in the residential sector drops by 90% from 2015 to 2035 (-86% in tertiary). Electrification and non-fossil gases fully substitute fossil gas in industry between 2035 and 2040.
    • High carbon prices and EU and Member States’ commitment to phasing out fossil gas is crucial for the trajectories shown in the PAC scenario.

    2.3 Phasing out fossil oil

    The absolute domination of fossil oil products in the transport sector is not compatible neither with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C objective nor with the EU climate and energy targets.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       Fossil oil quickly loses its dominating role in the transport sector by 2035, shrinking to 28% of final energy demand. This is followed by a full phase out by 2040, provided liquid synthetic fuels are scaled-up from the beginning of the 2030s to substitute kerosene in aviation.

    ·       As in the case of fossil gas, deep renovations quickly squeeze fossil oil out of the supply mix for heating and hot water in buildings. Final energy demand for fossil oil in the residential sector drops by 95% from 2015 to 2035 (-80% in tertiary).

    ·       Phasing out fossil oil in industry is less challenging than leaving fossil gas. It slumps from a share of 8% in final energy demand in 2015 to 2% in 2035.


    2.4 Phasing out waste incineration

     

    Waste incineration will be phased out by 2040, assuming a 20-year lifetime of incinerators and taking into account a gradual implementation of the circular economy approach and shrinking waste volumes.

     

    Key results

    ·       The EU continues its circular economy approach, reduces waste and leaves waste incineration by 2040.


    2.5 Phasing out nuclear power

     

    The PAC Scenario anticipates that national phase-out plans for nuclear will be implemented. Newly added nuclear power capacities are not realistic due to high investment costs and competition of renewables. Increasing costs of maintenance, of the fuel chain and of decommissioning incentivise earlier retirements.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       A minority of EU Member States keeps nuclear power in the mix. Except for the few reactors added after 2000, all capacities will be retired by the year 2040.

    ·       Its share in electricity generation drops from 26% in 2015 to 6% in 2030 and remains marginal in 2040.


    2.6 Mobilising bioenergy

    Biomass is an abundant resource with a very limited sustainable potential for energy. Therefore, the PAC scenario implies clear boundaries for bioenergy use. These include that:

    • In line with EEB’s and CAN Europe’s principles on sustainable bioenergy use, an increase of forest harvests is excluded.
    • Only waste and residues with climate benefits and no alternative use feed the biogas production
    • So-called first generation biofuels are phased-out by 2030. Second generation biofuels are limited to aviation and self-consumption in agriculture, with low land footprint and stringent sustainability criteria.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       Primary energy supply of bioenergy decreases by almost two thirds between 2015 and 2050. Its share in primary energy supply falls from 9% to 6% in 2050. If the use of solid biomass as non-energy feedstock in the chemical industry is included, supply still more than halves.

    ·       Bioenergy plays an important qualitative role thanks to its flexible and versatile energy carriers that respond to specific demands of sectors and processes where no renewable alternative is accessible.

    ·       Sustainable bioenergy quantitatively loses in importance but respects the boundaries of its potentials.


    2.7 Mobilising solar energy

    The PAC Scenario assumes that solar photovoltaic (PV) is the cheapest and easiest to scale up renewable technology. Whilst solar thermal heat grows less strongly than solar PV, its shares in district heating play an increasing role. Concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) remains limited to a few southern European countries with sufficient solar irradiation and suitable locations.

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       Solar PV makes solar energy the second most important electricity source of the PAC scenario by 2030. After a quick ramp-up until 2030, it covers up to 38% of electricity generation in 2050.

    ·       Solar thermal heat supply more than doubles until 2050. It reaches new consumers in the tertiary sector and in industries with low temperature demand thanks to the expansion of district heat networks.


    2.8 Mobilising wind energy

    The PAC Scenario assumes that electricity generated by wind turbines onshore and offshore is one of the cheapest renewable technologies. Further decreases in installation costs make it a driver for electrification.

     

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       Due to a speedy multiplication of capacities both onshore and offshore, wind energy becomes the EU’s most important source of primary energy supply in 2030 with 2,326 TWh, just before fossil gas and oil.

    ·       If onshore wind capacities are scaled-up according to the PAC scenario trajectory, only a third of the 450,000 MW offshore wind capacity potential needs to be mobilised to make wind energy the most important source of primary energy supply in 2030. A higher offshore wind share is however possible.


    2.9 Mobilising hydropower

    Here are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       Aside from upgrade of existing facilities, no further hydropower expansion happens beyond 2020.

    ·       Hydropower production will drop by 10% due to climate change and environmental requirements.



    2.10 Mobilising ocean energy

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       Ocean energy is at the brink of market introduction with a positive outlook. It complements Europe’s offshore energy portfolio in the coastal regions but plays a marginal role in European energy mix.


    2.11 Mobilising ambient and geothermal energy

    Here are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       The deep renovation of buildings presents an opportunity for installing heat pumps as an easy to deploy heating technology. Heat pumps efficiently increase the use of renewable electricity for heating. They cover 15% of gross final heat consumption in 2030 and 54% in 2040.

    ·       It is more challenging to scale up CHP plants and heating stations using deep geothermal potentials. In the PAC scenario, primary energy supply of geothermal energy increases more than ten-fold from 21 TWh in 2015 to 247 TWh in 2050.


    2.12 Producing non-fossil gases and fuels

    Non-fossil gases and fuels are based on hydrogen that is exclusively produced with renewable electricity. In order to respond to specific demands of industry and transport sectors, renewable hydrogen can be converted into renewable ammonia, synthetic methane and liquid synthetic fuels. All non-fossil gases are linked with important losses of primary energy input. Efficiencies of electrolysers and conversion processes gradually improve. Levelised costs of renewable hydrogen production however remain relatively high compared to direct electrification and constrain market introduction. With this in mind, the PAC scenario restricts the use of non-fossil gases to sectors and processes that cannot use renewable electricity directly and that do not have any alternative to substitute fossil fuels, i.e. to energy-intensive industries and parts of transport.

     

    Below are some key results. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    Key results

    ·       Non-fossil gases have climate benefits only if they are exclusively produced with renewable electricity and replace fossil fuels in distinct demand sectors where there is no other sustainable alternative such as renewable heat or direct electrification with renewable electricity.

    ·       Already during the 2020s, first relevant shares of renewable hydrogen have to be introduced to accompany the phase-out of coal and fossil gas in energy-intensive industries. In view of their poor efficiency, non-fossil gases however will only play a limited role compared to direct electrification.

    ·       Compared to industry, renewable hydrogen, renewable ammonia and in particular liquid synthetic fuels cover a higher share of transport’s final energy demand (up to 37% in 2050). Only a very swift and broad scaling up of renewable hydrogen generation allows for the ambitious fossil oil phase out in transport.


    Chapter 3: Reaching the Paris Agreement 1.5°C target

    3.1 Greenhouse gas emissions reductions

    The PAC scenario’s overarching aim is to illustrate a robust pathway that ensures the EU limits global warming to not more than 1.5°C as endorsed in the Paris Agreement. The deployment of energy savings and renewable energy potentials as described in chapters 1 and 2 ensure a quick reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Below is a table illustrating GHG reductions until 2050. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    3.2 Energy savings

    The final energy consumption under the PAC scenario halves between 2015 and 2050. With a final energy demand of around 770 Mtoe in 2030, it shows the important energy savings potential that can be mobilised. It is clear that the EU 32.5% energy efficiency target for 2030 can be outperformed. Compared to PRIMES projections, final energy consumption is 46% lower.

    Below is a table illustrating projected energy savings until 2050. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.

    3.3 Renewable energy shares

    The PAC scenario projects a fully renewable energy supply by the year 2040. The steep increase of renewable energy in the energy mix allows to outgo the EU 32% renewable energy target for the year 2030. The share of renewable energy sources in the gross final energy consumption of the EU28 reaches more than 50% in 2030.

    Below are two tables illustrating projected renewable energy shares until 2050 and how the PAC scenario translates into EU28 renewable energy sub-targets. To download the full chapter, click on the link to the right.


    Scenario Presentation Video


    Further energy scenario studies

    While the PAC Scenario is unique in its civil-society-based approach to envisaging a Paris Agreement Compatible energy future for Europe, other important works on future energy scenarios have been carried out by actors such as TSOs, energy associations and NGOs. You can find more on these through the link below.