Skip to main content

Scenario descriptions and storylines

Scenarios have to ensure both consistency between successive TYNDP reports and to capture new developments and expectations. For this purpose, initial storylines proposed to stakeholders were derived from the TYNDP 2020 scenarios already taking into account the feedback received during the Q4 2020 public consultation. The final scenario storylines are laid out in the Final Storyline Report published in April 2021. This chapter recaps the most important information of the storyline report.

Scenario drivers

Storylines aim to ensure that sufficient differences are made between the scenarios by correctly identifying high-level drivers and quantifying their outcomes. The energy landscape is constantly evolving and scenarios need to keep pace with the main drivers and trends affecting the energy system and in particular the gas and electricity infrastructures.

A key success factor in understanding these drivers is the ongoing dialogue with stakeholders like NGOs, policy makers and industrial associations. Based on this engagement process ENTSOG and ENTSO-E identified four high level drivers:

Green transition reflects the level of GHG reduction targets and is one of the most important political drivers of energy scenarios. The European Union has ratified the Paris Agreement. This implies a commitment to the long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C. The current EU decarbonisation targets consider at least –55 % greenhouse gas reduction in 2030. For 2050 there are non-binding decarbonisation targets (80 to 95 % cuts in GHG emission from 1990 levels). Moreover, ENTSOG and ENTSO-E acknowledge that setting GHG emissions targets for 2030 and 2050 is not sufficient for keeping temperature rise below 1.5 °C. As a result, the scenarios will consider a carbon budget up to 2100 including emissions and removals from agriculture and from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)1.

Beyond climate targets, the European energy system will be increasingly shaped by societal decisions and initiatives acting as a driving force of the energy transition. This scenario driver translates in the level of (de)centralisation and energy autonomy which both strongly impact the structure of the European energy system and therefore the need of infrastructure. Currently the EU primary energy consumption relies strongly on centralised production sources and imports from outside Europe. Whether this dependency will remain is rather uncertain. Especially when considering the current uptake of wind and photovoltaic technologies, enabling localised (self-)production and smart use of distributed energy supply. This makes it a relevant driver to be explored in the scenarios.

Energy intensity is a result of innovation and consumer behaviour and can be a major factor in the transition of the energy system. New appliances and technological innovation reduce specific energy demand or facilitate the participation of consumers in the energy system. On the other side, new technologies can lead to additional energy demand. Moreover, consumers can reduce their consumption by modal shifts, for example using the bike instead of the car for shorter distances or by more shared economy through public transport and vehicle sharing. This also applies to agriculture and industrial sectors, where a drive towards circularity could lower energy demand, but an increase economic activity could at least partly offset the efficiency gains. Assumptions need to be made for each sector and energy application.

Technological progress is a driver for the energy system evolution. It can act both as an enabler of other drivers (e. g. more powerful wind turbine helping to further harvest EU RES potential) and as a trigger (e. g. electrolysis paving the way to a hydrogen economy). Further assumptions are made to define the market shares for different technologies/appliances, for example through technology prices2.

1 For the assessment of the carbon budget, ENTSOG and ENTSO-E will build upon the work performed together with CAN Europe for the TYNDP 2020 scenarios.
2 The present scenarios only cover technologies having reached some degree of maturity in the early 2020s. Other technologies such as Direct Air Capture or innovative ways to produce synthetic fuel are not considered in the scenarios up to 2050. But it is assumed that these technologies can reach commercial maturity after 2050.

Scenarios will cover different time horizons

For both 20223 and 2025 a “Best Estimate” scenario is developed. For the quantification of this time horizon ENTSOG and ENTSO-E use data collected from the TSOs.

These figures reflect current national and ­European regulations as stated end of 2020.

3 As the 2022 time horizon are not used in ENTSO-E TYNDP, the report figures for this year refer to gas TSO data collection without modelling of the electricity system.

Figure 1: Scenario framework for TYNDP 2022

The long-term goals, starting from 2030, will be covered by three different scenarios, reflecting increasing uncertainties towards 2050.

  • The National Trends scenario is in line with national energy and climate policies (NECPs , national long-term strategies, hydrogen strategies, etc.) derived from the European targets. The electricity and gas datasets for this scenario are based on figures collected from the TSOs translating the latest policy- and market-driven developments as discussed at national level. The quantification of National Trends focuses on electricity and gas up to 20404. ENTSOG and ENTSO-E invite stakeholders to refer to the national documents to have a more energy-wide perspective.
  • In addition to the National Trends scenario, which is aligned with national policies, ENTSOG and ENTSO-E have developed two COP21 compliant scenarios. These are built as full energy scenarios (all sectors, all energy carriers) in order to quantify compliance with EU policies and climate ambitions. Both scenarios aim at reaching the 1.5 °C target of the Paris Agreement following the carbon budget approach. They are developed on a country-level until 2040 and on a EU27-level until 2050.

4 As most of national material focuses on the path to 2030, extending the National Trends scenario beyond 2040 would require additional assumptions no longer reflecting national policies and strategies.

Storylines for COP21 scenarios

ENTSOG and ENTSO-E applied the aforementioned scenario drivers and the scenario framework to create two COP21 compliant scenario storylines:

  • Distributed Energy (DE) pictures a pathway achieving EU-27 carbon neutrality by 2050 and at least 55 % emission reduction in 2030. The scenario is driven by a willingness of the society to achieve energy autonomy based on widely available indigenous renewable energy sources. It translates into both a way-of-life evolution and a strong decentralised drive towards decarbonisation through local initiatives by citizens, communities and businesses, supported by authorities. This leads to a maximization of renewable energy production in Europe and a strong decrease of energy imports.
  • Global Ambition (GA) pictures a pathway to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and at least 55 % emission reduction in 2030, driven by a global move towards the Paris Agreement targets. It translates into the development of a wide range of renewable and low-carbon technologies (many being centralised) and the use of global energy trade as a tool to accelerate decarbonization. Economies of scale lead to significant cost reductions in emerging technologies such as offshore wind, but also imports of decarbonised energy from competitive sources are considered as a viable option.

The final storylines are the product of extensive stakeholder engagements and a public consultation conducted in 2020. Both storylines are designed to explore different pathways with regard to the identified scenario drivers, with the purpose of covering the uncertainty in the possible use of energy infrastructure. This is further elaborated in the scenario matrix that was published as part of the scenario matrix that was published as part of the Final Storyline Report. Figure 2 provides an overview of the most important storyline assumptions. More information on the scenario storylines can be found in the  final storyline report.

Distributed Energy
Higher European autonomy with renewable and decentralised focus
Global Ambition
Global economy with centralised low carbon and RES options
Green TransitionAt least a 55 % reduction in 2030, climate neutral in 2050
Driving force of the energy transition Transition initiated at a local / national level (prosumers)Transition initiated at a European / international level
Aims for EU energy autonomy through maximisation of RES and smart sector integration (P2G/L)High EU RES development supplemented with low carbon energy and imports
Energy intensityReduced energy demand through circularity and better energy consumption behaviourEnergy demand also declines, but priority is given to decarbonisation of energy supply
Digitalisation driven by prosumer and variable RES managementDigitalisation and automation reinforce competitiveness of EU business
TechnologiesFocus of decentralised technologies (PV, batteries, etc.) and smart chargingFocus on large scale technologies (offshore wind, large storage)
Focus on electric heat pumps and district heatingFocus on hybrid heating technology
Higher share of EV, with e-liquids and biofuels supplementing for heavy transportWide range of technologies across mobility sectors (electricity, hydrogen and biofuels)
Minimal CCS and nuclearIntegration of nuclear and CCS

Figure 2: Storylines for the two COP21 scenarios