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Towards a climate-neutral and climate-resilient EU energy infrastructure: recommendations to ACER
To ensure that the planning process for trans-European energy networks supports the required energy transition towards climate neutrality and climate resilience in the European Union by 2050, the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change provided recommendations to the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) on its guidelines for scenarios to be used for network development planning.
Energy supply and use are responsible for 77% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the network planning process drives the transition towards renewable-based and efficient energy systems, and avoids creating further lock-ins into fossil infrastructure. It is also critical for network planning to ensure the resilience of the EU’s energy infrastructure to the impacts of climate change, such as extreme temperatures, water shortages and flooding risks.
Regulation (EU) 2022/869 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2022 on Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) invites the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change to provide input to guidelines on scenarios for network development planning.
The key recommendations, which are explained in detail in the advice document, can be summarised as follows:
- Comply with climate targets at all times: Scenarios should be adjusted as soon as intermediary climate targets are adopted, be modelled until at least 2050, and capture a range of different pathways to climate neutrality.
- Adapt to a complex and constantly changing world: Scenarios should incorporate projected climate impacts on the energy infrastructure, use a building-blocks approach (including flexibility, electrification, hydrogen, offshore grids and carbon dioxide removals), and be based on up-to-date, scientifically sound and forward-looking information.
- Conduct a transparent and inclusive process: The assumptions, methods and results from scenarios should be published in detail, and independent experts should be consulted early in the process.
The Advisory Board urges ACER to emphasise the long-term perspective of infrastructure planning and climate impacts, in order to avoid stranded assets, as well as the need to bridge the gap between current plans and the goal of climate neutrality.
To do so in a robust manner, energy system scenarios need to cover a wide range of the uncertainties impacting infrastructure needs, such as market trends, geopolitical developments, technology maturity, consumers’ demand and risks of climate disasters.