Florian Zickfeld, Aglaia Wieland, Dii GmbH, June 2012

Desert Power 2050 (DP2050) examines the future energy challenges of Europe as well as the Middle East and North Africa (EUMENA). It shows that these challenges can best be addressed by moving beyond the currently predominant view of the two regions as separate entities. Indeed, Europe and MENA are not just neighbors, tied together by a long history of trade and cultural exchange; in a world of renewable energy, EUMENA should be viewed as a single region.

 Download document
 Go to Desert 2050 website

Institute for Energy and Transport, Joint Research Centre, European Commission, 2011

The swift deployment on a large scale of technologies with a low-carbon footprint in the European energy system is a prerequisite for the transition to a low-carbon society - a key strategic objective of the European Union. A necessary condition for the timely market roll-out of these low-carbon energy technologies is an acceleration of their development and demonstration. This is catalysed by the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) through the streamlining and amplifying of the European human and financial resources dedicated to energy technology innovation. SETIS, the SET-Plan information system, has been supporting SET-Plan from its onset, providing referenced, timely and unbiased information and analyses on the technological and market status and the potential impact of deployment of low-carbon energy technologies, thereby assisting decision makers in identifying future R&D and demonstration priorities which could become focal areas for the SET-Plan.

The Technology Map is one of the principal regular deliverables of SETIS. It is prepared by JRC scientists in collaboration with colleagues from other services of the European Commission and with experts from industry, national authorities and academia, to provide:

  • a concise and authoritative assessment of the state of the art of a wide portfolio of low-carbon energy technologies;
  • their current and estimated future market penetration and the barriers to their large-scale deployment;
  • the ongoing and planned R&D and demonstration eff orts to overcome technological barriers; and,
  • reference values for their operational and economic performance, which can be used for the modelling and analytical work performed in support of implementation of the SET-Plan.

This third edition of the Technology Map, i.e. the 2011 update, addresses 20 different technologies, covering the whole spectrum of the energy system, including both supply and demand technologies

Download document

European Expert Group on Future Transport Fuels, 2011

Transport fuel supply today, in particular to the road sector, is dominated by oil, which has proven reserves that are expected to last around 40 years. The combustion of mineral oil derived fuels gives rise to CO2 emissions and, despite the fact the fuel efficiency of new vehicles has been improving, so that these emit significantly less CO2 , total CO2 emissions from transport have increased by 24% from 1990 to 2008, representing 19.5% of total European Union (EU) greenhouse gas emissions. 

The EU objective is an  overall reduction of CO2 emissions of 80-95%  by the year 2050, with respect to the 1990 level. Decarbonisation of transport and the substitution of oil as transport fuel therefore have both the same time horizon of 2050. Improvement of transport efficiency and management of transport volumes are necessary to support the reduction of CO2 emissions while fossil fuels still dominate, and to enable finite renewable resources to meet the full energy demand from transport in the long term.  

Alternative fuel options for substituting oil as energy source for propulsion in transport are: 

1.-Electricity/hydrogen, and biofuels (liquids) as the main options. 

  • Electricity  and  hydrogen are universal energy carriers and can be produced from all primary energy sources. Both pathways can in principle be made CO2 free; the CO2 intensity depends on the energy mix for electricity and hydrogen production. Propulsion uses electric motors. The energy can be supplied via three main pathways:

    • Battery-electric (with electricity from the grid stored on board vehicles in batteries) Power transfer between the grid and vehicles requires new infrastructure and power management
    • Fuel cells powered by hydrogen, used for on-board electricity production. Hydrogen production, distribution and storage require new infrastructure. 
    • Overhead Line / Third Rail for tram, metro, trains, and trolley-buses, with electricity taken directly from the grid without the need of intermediate storage.

  • Biofuels could technically substitute oil in all transport modes, with existing power train technologies and existing re-fuelling infrastructures. Use of biomass resources can also decarbonise synthetic fuels, methane and LPG. First generation biofuels are based on traditional crops, animal fats, used cooking oils. They include FAME biodiesel, bioethanol, and biomethane.

2.-Synthetic fuels, as a technology bridge from fossil to biomass based fuels, substituting diesel and jet fuel, can  be produced from different feedstock, converting biomass to liquid (BTL), coal to liquid (CTL) or gas to liquid (GTL). Hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVO), of a similar paraffinic nature, can be produced by hydrotreating plant oils and animal fats. Synthetic fuels can be distributed, stored and used with existing infrastructure and existing internal combustion engines.

3.-Methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuels. Methane can be sourced from fossil natural gas or from biomass and wastes as biomethane. Biomethane should preferentially be fed into  the general gas grid. Methane powered vehicles should then be fed from a single grid. Additional  refuelling infrastructure has to be built up to ensure widespread supply.

4.-Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) as supplement. LPG  is a by-product of the hydrocarbon fuel chain, currently resulting from oil and natural gas, in future possibly also from biomass. LPG is currently the most widely used alternative fuel in Europe, accounting for 3% of the fuel for cars and powering 5 million cars.

Download document

Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), 2010

Wind energy has become an important player in the world’s energy markets. Global wind power markets have been for the past several years dominated by three major markets: Europe, North America (US), and Asia (China and India). While these three markets still accounted for 86% of total installed capacity at the end of 2009, there are signs that this may be changing. Emerging markets in Latin America, Asia and Africa are reaching critical mass and we may be surprised to see one or more of them rise to challenge the three main markets in the coming years.

Commercial wind farms now operate in close to 80 countries, and present many benefits for both developed and developing countries: increased energy security; stable power prices; economic development which both attracts investment and creates jobs; reduced dependence on imported fuels; improved air quality; and, of course, CO2 emissions reductions. Each of these factors is a driver in different measure in different locations, but in an increasing number of countries they combine to make wind power the generation technology of choice.

The Global Wind Energy Outlook (GWEO) 2010 presents three different scenarios for global wind power development up to 2030. By providing detailed wind power trajectories for all the world’s regions, the GWEO 2010 shows how global wind power capacity could reach 2,300 GW by 2030, providing up to 22% of the world's electricity needs.

In the GWEO Advanced scenario, the average annual growth for cumulative installed capacity is assumed to start off at 27% in 2010, and then gradually decline to 9% by 2020. By 2030, they will have dropped to 4%. Growth rates as anticipated by the IEA in the Reference scenario start at 17% in 2010, drop to 3% by 2015, stabilising at that level. The growth rates for the Moderate scenario range from 26% in 2010 to 9% in 2020 and to 5% in 2030.

Download document

European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), 2011

Over the last 10 years, photovoltaic(PV) progress has been impressive. The total installed PV capacity in the world has multiplied by a factor of 27, from 1.5 GW in 2000 to 39.5 GW in 2010 - a yearly growth rate of 40%. That growth has proved to be sustainable, allowing the industry to develop at a stable rate.

Three main factors have driven the spectacular growth enjoyed by PV in recent years:

  • Firstly, renewable energy is no longer considered a curiosity. PV has proven itself to be a reliable and safe energy source in all regions of the world.
  • Secondly, the price decreases that have brought PV close to grid parity in several countries have encouraged new investors.
  • And finally, smart policy makers in key countries have set adequate FiTs and other incentives that have helped develop markets, reduce prices and raise investors’ awareness of the technology.

The EU, having overtaken Japan, is now the clear leader in terms of market and total installed capacity - thanks largely to German initiatives that have in turn helped create global momentum. In the rest of the world, the leading countries continue to be those that started installing PV even before the EU. The market is expanding every year, with new countries joining progressively. In the so-called Sunbelt countries, decreasing prices are bringing PV closer to grid parity and helping spread awareness of its potential.

But what about the future of PV market development? With between 131 and 196 GW of PV systems likely to be installed in 2015, the forecasts are promising. But the financial crisis and competition with other energy sources have put pressure on policy makers to streamline the incentives for PV. PV is now a mature technology that is rapidly approaching grid parity. The time has come for reasonable support schemes in line with price evolution. In the coming months and years EPIA will support the adaptation of support schemes to prices. But until grid parity is reached, the PV industry is committed to ensuring the best possible use of support schemes.

The future of the PV market remains bright in the EU and the rest of the world. Uncertain times are causing governments everywhere to rethink the future of their energy mix, creating new opportunities for a competitive, safe and reliable electricity source such as PV.

Download document

AEA Energy & Environment, 2006

Ocean energy technologies are at the early stages of development compared with other, more well-established renewable and conventional generation technologies. The oceans contain a huge amount of energy that can theoretically be exploited for generating useful energy. Ocean energy technology could contribute to meeting cost-effective, sustainable and secure energy demands in the medium to long term. 

The different types of ocean technologies are the following:

  • Ocean wave energy is the energy occurring from movements of water near the surface of the sea in an oscillatory or circular process that can be converted into electricity. Waves are a function of the energy transfer effected by the passage of wind over the surface of the sea. The distance over which this process occurs is called the ‘fetch’. Longer fetches produce larger, more powerful waves, as do stronger winds and extended periods of wind.
  • Tidal current energy is energy contained in naturally occurring tidal currents which can be directly extracted and converted into electricity. Strong tidal currents are most frequently found near headlands and islands. These retard the progress of the tidal bulge as it moves around the earth, leading to head differences that can only be equalised by a flow of water around and between the land features. It is this flow that constitutes the tidal current. Energy can be extracted using devices that move in response to the forces the current exerts, and use this movement to drive an electrical generator. (Tidal current is also referred to as tidal stream.)
  • Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) is based on drawing energy from the thermal gradient between surface water temperature and cold deep-water temperature, by use of a power-producing thermodynamic cycle. A temperature difference of 20o C (from surface to approximately 1 km depth) is commonly found in ocean areas within 20o  of the Equator. These conditions exist in tropical areas, roughly between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer.
  • Salinity gradient energy can take two forms. The first, commonly known as the solar pond approach, involves the application of salinity gradients in a body of water for the purpose of collecting and storing solar energy. Large quantities of salt are dissolved in the hot bottom layer of the body of water, making it too dense to rise to the surface and cool, causing a distinct thermal stratification of water that could be employed by a cyclic thermodynamic process similar to OTEC. The second application of salinity gradients (and the one most commonly referred to when describing electricity generation from salinity gradients) takes advantage of the osmotic pressure differences between salt and fresh water. The exploitation of the entropy of mixing freshwater with saltwater is often facilitated by use of a semi-permeable membrane, resulting in the production of a direct electrical current.
Download document

Directorate-General for Research,
European Commission, 2003.

Hydrogen and electricity together represent one of the most promising ways to realise sustainable energy, whilst fuel cells provide the most efficient conversion device for converting hydrogen, and possibly other fuels, into electricity. Hydrogen and fuel cells open the way to integrated “open energy systems” that simultaneously address all of the major energy and environmental challenges, and have the flexibility to adapt to the diverse and intermittent renewable energy sources that will be available in the Europe of 2030.

Fuel cells will be used in a wide range of products, ranging from very small fuel cells in portable devices such as mobile phones and laptops, through mobile applications like cars, delivery vehicles, buses and ships, to heat and power generators in stationary applications in the domestic and industrial sector. Future energy systems will also include improved conventional energy converters running on hydrogen (e.g. internal combustion engines, Stirling engines, and turbines) as well as other energy carriers (e.g. direct heat and electricity from renewable energy, and bio-fuels for transport).

The benefits of hydrogen and fuel cells are wide ranging, but will not be fully apparent until they are in widespread use. With the use of hydrogen in fuel-cell systems there are very low to zero carbon emissions and no emissions of harmful ambient air substances like nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide or carbon monoxide. Because of their low noise and high power quality, fuel cell systems are ideal for use in hospitals or IT centres, or for mobile applications. They offer high efficiencies which are independent of size. Fuel-cell electric-drive trains can provide a significant reduction in energy consumption and regulated emissions. Fuel cells can also be used as Auxiliary Power Units (APU) in combination with internal combustion engines, or in stationary back-up systems when operated with reformers for on-board conversion of other fuels – saving energy and reducing air pollution, especially in congested urban traffic.

Download document

Biofuels Research Advisory Council (BIOFRAC)
European Commission, 2006

By 2030, the European Union covers as much as one quarter of its road transport fuel needs by clean and CO2-efficient biofuels. This significantly decreases the EU fossil fuel import dependence. In 2006, the production of liquid biofuels in the EU 25 was about 2 Mtoe, which is less than 1% of the market. The EU has a significant potential for the production of biofuels, it is estimated that between 4 and 18% of the total agricultural land in the EU would be needed to produce the amount of biofuels to reach the level of liquid fossil fuel replacement required for the transport sector in the Directive 2003/30/EC. 

Biofuels are produced using sustainable and innovative technologies; these create opportunities for biomass providers, biofuel producers and the automotive industry. A phased development is envisaged based on short-term improvement of existing feedstock and technologies, RTD&D (research, technology development and demonstration) and commercial production of 2nd generation biofuels (mainly from lignocellulosic biomass), RTD&D and implementation of full-scale integrated biorefineries, and new energy crops.

Advanced conversion technologies are needed to produce ethanol and ethanol derivatives from a wider range of resources, including lignocellulosic biomass. A wide range of lignocellulosic biomass wastes can be considered from agriculture (e.g. straw, corn stover, bagasse), forestry, wood industry, and pulp/paper processes. Cellulose and hemicellulose can be converted into alcohol, by first converting them into sugar, but the process is not yet proven at an industrial scale. Lignin cannot be converted by such a biochemical process but can be via a thermochemical step, as discussed below. 

Today, there is little commercial production of ethanol and ethanol derivatives from cellulosic biomass, but R&D is ongoing in Canada, USA and also in Europe. Further progress is thus required to bring such conversion processes to the market. This includes more efficient biochemical systems (new enzymes, yeasts), innovative fractionation and purification processes and efficient uses of co-products. Additionally, the flexibility of conversion plants has to be improved in order to enable conversion of a broad range of lignocellulosic feedstock

Download document

Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, 2009.

Increasing energy demands, concerns over climate change and limited supplies of fossil fuels mean that the world needs to fi nd new, cleaner ways of powering itself. Nuclear fusion – the process that provides the sun’s energy – can play a big part in our sustainable energy future.

Download this file (Fusion_a_clean_future.pdf)Fusion_a_clean_future.pdf[ ]

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 2009

This review - issued every two years and updated annually - reports on the global status and trends in fields of nuclear science and technology. Topics covered include nuclear power development, including innovative reactors and fuel cycle approaches; nuclear applications in fields of health, agriculture, water, and other areas; nuclear information and knowledge management; and issues of sustainable development in which nuclear technologies can play an important role.

European Bioenergy Networks (EUBIONET), 2003

The main reasons for the growing international interest in utilising renewable fuels are the objectives of promoting the use of renewable fuels in line with the statements in the European Commission’s White Paper and of meeting emission limits and targets set by the EU directives. Emission allowance trading may also pose new challenges to power producers in the future. It can already be stated with great confidence that power producers will have to cope with an increasing number of EU-level regulations concerning emission levels in general, and especially greenhouse gas emissions. Usually these regulatory actions aim at favouring the use of biomass.

Download this file (BioMass.pdf)BioMass.pdf[ ]

European Network for Research in Geo-Energy (ENeRG)
Newsletter of Issue Nº 19 the ENeRG Network June 2009

Europe is definitely the most geothermal continent in the world, at least where direct application is concerned. Twenty nine European countries account for about 45% of total flow, 40% of total installed capacity and 50% of annual utilization. However, distribution of the “know-how” and experience is still very uneven. Heat pumps are most common in northern and western European countries where geothermal energy is mainly used for space heating purposes. Balneology is typical of central Europe. Agricultural and industrial uses are spread throughout the southern and eastern countries. An exception is Iceland, where nearly all the known types of direct utilization can be found.

Download this file (Geo_thermal.pdf)Geo_thermal.pdf[ ]

European Commission

Photovoltaic electricity costs are becoming more and more competitive. A stronger effort towards further development and technological innovation will make the sector more productive and competitive, and accelerate its evolution. As a result, the whole community will benefit from the increasing possibility that photovoltaic energy will be able to contribute substantially to EU electricity generation by 2020.

Download this file (Photovoltaic_future.pdf)Photovoltaic_future.pdf[ ]