An integrated European energy system is crucial to deliver on the goals laid out in the European Green Deal. To decarbonize all sectors of the economy and achieve climate neutrality by 2050, greenhouse gas emission reductions need to be accelerated by 2030.
Decreasing costs for renewable energy technologies, storage system innovation, electric vehicles, as well as digitalization are leading towards a greater energy system integration in Europe. However, linking various energy carriers (electricity, heat, cold, gas, solid and liquid fuels) with each other and with the end-use sectors, such as buildings, transport or industry allows the optimization of the energy system as a whole.
The EU Strategy for Energy System Integration presented on 8 July 2020, demonstrates how the deployment of various existing and emerging technologies, processes and business models can accelerate the transition toward a more integrated energy system, while strengthening energy security, protecting health and the environment, and promoting growth, innovation and global industrial leadership.
The Strategy relies on three complementary and mutually reinforcing concepts.
A more ‘circular’ energy system, with energy efficiency at its core, in which the least energy intensive choices are prioritized, unavoidable waste streams are reused for energy purposes, and synergies are exploited across sectors.
Greater direct electrification of end-use sectors. The rapid growth and cost competitiveness of renewable electricity production can service a growing share of energy demand.
Use of renewable and low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen, for end-use applications where direct heating or electrification are not feasible, not efficient or have higher costs.
In addition, the Strategy identifies six pillars that outline coordinated measures to address existing barriers for energy system integration.
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a more integrated European energy system is more important than ever. In addition to the acceleration of the economic recovery and mobilizing investment, it also plays a crucial role in achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
The EU Strategy for Energy System Integration can be downloaded from here.