Half of European Union citizens could produce their own energy by 2050

Potential energy storage by energy citizens, estimates for 2015, 2030 and 2050 (GWh) (CE Delft)
Potential energy storage by energy citizens, estimates for 2015, 2030 and 2050 (GWh) (CE Delft)

As renewable energy, battery storage and demand side management become more popular, the energy system is getting more decentralized. Some of the effects of this transformation have been calculated in a report launched this week by the European Renewable Energies Federation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the European Federation of Renewable Energy Cooperatives. Their conclusion is that half of the citizens of the European Union could be producing their own electricity by 2050.

The study, “The Potential of Energy Citizens in the European Union”, considers production by households, collectives, micro and small enterprises, and public entities.

The technologies assessed are wind farms, solar panels, stationary batteries, electric boiler and electric vehicles.

In total, says the report, 264 million people could be producing 611 TWh of electricity by 2030 and 1,557 TWh by 2050. That would mean 19 % of the EU’s electricity demand by 2030 and 45 % by 2050. Households would be particularly strong in the production of solar, micro and small enterprises in the production of wind power.

From a country perspective, Germany, France and the United Kingdom have the largest potential in terms of energy generated. Sweden would lead in the proportion of citizens involved in electricity production (79 % of the population). Latvia has the highest potential for generation capacity as citizens could be meeting 83 % of the country’s electricity demand in 2050.

In total, collective projects and co-operatives could contribute 37 % of the electricity produced by energy citizens, micro-and small businesses 39 %, households 23 % and public entities 1%.

“Already today, energy citizens such as communities and cooperatives have transformed the energy market in many European countries while contributing significantly to revitalising the local economy and creating local jobs,” said the European Federation of Renewable Energy Cooperatives.

The report also looks at what energy citizens can contribute in demand response through stationary batteries, electric vehicles and smart boilers, which allow to programme the usage of electricity outside demand peaks. In 2050, 7 in 10 European citizens could be engaged in demand response, says the study.

All this, however, will not necessarily happen in a spontaneous way. The organizations want the promotion of self-production, with the removal of legal obstacles and administrative burdens, in the new EU renewable energy directive currently in preparation.

Claudia Delpero

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