A second in a series of linked studies around the energy transition in Central-West Europe was published today.

The study came at the request of energy ministers at the Pentalateral Energy Forum (Penta). It offers insights into the building blocks needed to build a shared long-term vision of the electricity system of the future. The report focuses on the Penta region, which covers Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The study compares national scenarios towards carbon neutrality of the different Penta countries. It examines key elements and concrete steps, including intermediate ones, towards a climate-neutral energy system in 2050. This was done using four dimensions: power demand, power supply, electric system stability and underlying methodologies for the scenario analyses. For each of the dimensions, the most likely developments and uncertainties were considered. The result yielded 12 'beliefs' or preconditions to facilitate the energy transition. Finally, the Artelys researchers also provided some examples of possible actions on how the Pentalateral Energy Forum can put this vision into practice.

The research thus shows that the electricity sector should already be decarbonised sooner, best by 2035, and that renewables - mainly solar and wind - should be rolled out as soon as possible. Direct electrification, carbon-free molecules and hydrogen are necessary elements of the system. The capacity of the power grid needs to go up, through a coordinated system approach with sufficient consideration for storage. 'Energy saving first' and a focus on more flexibility are guiding principles to reduce the pressure on the system. Finally, a successful energy transition also needs a future-proof market design that provides the right incentives for investments in renewable energy and for its cost-optimal management.

In the aforementioned elements, regional cooperation can be helpful to get the transition done cost-efficiently and on time. The Pentalateral Energy Forum countries are well positioned to initiate and accelerate these changes, given their geography, potential for renewable energy sources, existing infrastructure, high level of industrialisation, and finally the combination with high demand for hydrogen and robust integration into European energy markets.

"The report shows the way to decarbonise the electricity sector, and with it the entire economy. Our task as Penta countries is to ensure that our transition plans fit together to decarbonise the entire region," said Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten, who currently chairs the Pentalateral Energy Forum. "We need to do this as soon as possible, and the report shows that by working together, we can build a more robust and affordable energy system." 

The countries involved will now continue working to translate the building blocks into a shared vision. Under the preconditions of economic prosperity and a reliable and affordable energy system, the aim is thereby to streamline and accelerate the energy transition.