EU study: clean energy costs no more in long run


BRUSSELS (AP) — A report issued Thursday says the European Union can cut its emissions of greenhouse gases dramatically by 2050 without spending any more money — and even, perhaps, saving a bit.

That estimate is based on an assessment that the new plants and equipment needed to switch to the generation of clean energy would cost more than continued reliance on fossil fuels, but that the clean energy itself would cost less.

"Only a new energy model will make our system secure, competitive and sustainable in the long run," said EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger. The report, called "Energy Roadmap 2050," was produced by the European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-country European Union.

The EU has committed itself to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, which contribute to changing the earth's climate, to 80-90 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

"The energy sector produces the lion's share of man-made greenhouse emissions," the report said, adding that reducing emissions would therefore "put particular pressure on energy systems."

The report analyzed various scenarios, including dramatically increasing energy efficiency with new requirements on appliances and buildings, strong support for renewable sources of energy, and carbon capture and storage. It concluded that the various clean energy scenarios would cost no more — and perhaps a bit less — than continuing to generate electricity as is done now.

And the report concluded that the time for change is now. In this decade, it said, "a new investment cycle is taking place, as infrastructure built 30-40 years ago needs to be replaced."

Investing in different ways of generating energy would be cheaper now than later, and would also avoid locking the EU into current methods, the report said.

The EU's current policies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions about 40 percent by 2050, it said.

The report was welcomed by environmentalist groups.

"The Energy Roadmap is an important step forward in helping the EU create a decarbonized economy," said Arne Mogren, of the European Climate Foundation.

The reaction of Greenpeace, too, was generally favorable.

"The roadmap shows that getting clean energy from renewables will cost taxpayers no more than getting dirty and dangerous energy from coal or nuclear power," said Fraule Thies, Greenpeace's EU energy policy director.