Final Report: Energy Security in Scenarios for Europe's Future Electricity Supply

Lilliestam, J. & Patt, A. (2012). Final Report: Energy Security in Scenarios for Europe's Future Electricity Supply. SEFEB Working Paper, Smart Energy for Europe Platform (December 2012)

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In the last few years, a number of studies concerning pathways for the very far-reaching decarbonisation of the European power system were published. These studies have had a considerable impact on both climate and energy policy and on the European energy debate in general, because they all conclude that it is technically possible and probably even economically beneficial to decarbonise the European power sector by 80-100% by 2050 using mainly, or exclusively, electricity from renewable sources in a pan-European, Supergrid, approach, supported by electricity imports from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Most of these studies also reach the conclusion that decarbonisation through renewables expansion is secure: that it can maintain or increase European energy security compared to today.

The last statement is important, because energy security is a high priority for policy makers. At the same time, there is reason to be worried that the empirical and analytic basis for the security statement is less robust than the statements concerning technical and economic feasibility. In many energy and electricity scenarios, Europe will import a substantial share of it its energy needs, either in the form of fossil or nuclear power plant fuels or, as is the case in Supergrid decarbonisation scenarios, as renewable electricity. However, it is not always clear from which regions or countries these imports originate, or in which setting they will take place. In most cases, "energy security" is not even defined, and it lies at hand that the subject of the security considerations may vary widely across different studies. Generally speaking, the energy security statements in the Supergrid studies are often weakly underpinned or, in some cases, it is not at all clear what the base for such a strong conclusion is. Still, any scenario of the future electricity supply must prove that it is secure, or Europe would be well advised not to pursue policies that support developments in the direction pointed out in the scenario. Finding out whether importing renewable electricity from MENA would be a threat to European energy security was the aim of the project, the results and implications of which are summarised here, together with an overall conclusion.

The project was carried out in three parts, all based on novel theoretical, epistemological and methodological approaches, which are described in detail in a series of scientific articles. First, we clarified the concept of energy security from a European policy-perspective, identifying the core components of the concept as they are relevant here. In the second part we explored the political risks, here narrowed down to the frequently discussed issues of dependence and "energy weapon" events on the one hand and terrorism attacks on the other. In the third part we assessed the overall failure risks of electricity scenarios. We describe each of these research tasks and results in section 1-3 of this document, and then in section 4 evaluate, holistically, overall energy security of renewable electricity imports for Europe.

Item Type: Other
Research Programs: Risk, Policy and Vulnerability (RPV)
Risk & Resilience (RISK)
Bibliographic Reference: SEFEB Working Paper, Smart Energy for Europe Platform (December 2012)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:47
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:39

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