Climate Action

European utilities commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2050

More than 3,500 European utility companies have declared a new vision for the electricity sector officially committing to lead the low-carbon energy transition calling on policymakers to accelerate electrification.

  • 11 December 2017
  • Websolutions

More than 3,500 European utility companies have declared a new vision for the electricity sector officially committing to lead the low-carbon energy transition calling on policymakers to accelerate electrification.

The Union of the Electricity Industry, EURELEC, is the sector association of the European electricity industry, representing more than 3,500 companies with an aggregate turnover of €200 billion.

Last week, the body issued a new long-term ‘Vision Declaration’ for the electricity industry in Europe. This seeks to accelerate the energy transition by providing not only cleaner electricity, but to also enable the supply of competitive electricity as a transformation tool for the transport, heating, and industrial energy use sectors.

European utilities see the energy transition as an opportunity not only to tackle climate change, but also to improve energy security by reducing their reliance on fossil fuels and making better use of domestic natural resources.

By pledging to lead the transition, Eurelectric aims to provide clean electricity to sectors that are largely responsible for carbon emissions, such as transport, heating, and industrial use.

Magnus Hall, CEO of Vattenfall and Vice-President of Eurelectric, said: “Electrification of heating, transport, and industry is a win-win. It comes with higher efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. We should do everything possible to advance electrification with smart regulation”.

The new Vision Declaration will see the scale-up of investment in low-carbon power generation and transition-enabling solutions. The main aim is for European utility companies to become carbon-neutral “well before mid-century”, taking into account, however, “different starting points and commercial availability of key transition technologies”.

The new declaration is considered key at a time where electrification is expected to determine the configuration of the future low-carbon economic system. The transport sector has already caught up with the trend, and one of the future challenges will be how the electricity industry will be able to accommodate both power and mobility needs.

Alistair Philips-Davies, CEO of SSE and Vice-President of Eurelectric, commented: “The investment required is huge. This statement reflects our full commitment to invest in innovation, to build new cross-sector business models, and ensure that electricity keeps creating value in decades to come”.

Through their new vision, European electric utilities call for policymakers and stakeholders to accelerate electrification through regulation, investment, and support.

Kristian Ruby, Eurelectric’s Secretary General, said: “The commitment and ambition expressed in this vision are challenging, especially for regions which depend on high carbon value chains. We, therefore, call on policymakers to do their utmost to ensure a fair and responsible transition, both socially and geographically, and provide the necessary support and funding to address any socio-economic impacts”.