Scenario results

5.4 GHG emissions

Distributed Energy and Global Ambition: designed for integrated infrastructure planning assessment and to meet the EU Climate and Energy objectives.

Both COP 21 scenarios, Distributed Energy and Global Ambition, are built considering the possible interactions with all different sectors and designed along contrasted storylines making them capable for assessing in which contrasting ways the EU energy infrastructure can support the transition towards net zero 2050, meeting the EU climate and energy objectives.

A carbon tracker to compare the scenarios with the Green Deal and COP 21 objectives.

While they are designed to meet the EU objectives, the COP 21 scenarios are fully fledged scenarios taking a holistic approach to the European energy system, capturing all interdependences across the different sectors and therefore allowing to track the carbon emissions. The carbon budget was firstly introduced in TYNDP 2020 and allows to monitor the evolution of the carbon budget left to meet the EU climate targets with each new TYNDP.

Energy efficiency first: reducing the energy demand is the most efficient way to reduce GHG emissions.

Both COP21 Scenarios consider the development of energy efficiency measures like renovation of buildings and increasing efficiency of developing technologies. A significant decrease in primary energy demand combined with increasing shares of renewables and decarbonised energy in the EU supply mix is a necessary condition of meeting the EU climate and energy objectives.

Renewable and decarbonisation capacities need significant increase.

Whereas electricity generation has already undergone some level of transition (1,300 TWh produced from hydro, wind and solar in 2019), the EU needs a significant increase in renewable and decarbonised capacities including for hydrogen and methane to decarbonise the whole energy system. Just for wind and solar generation, this represents an increase from 400 TWh produced in 2019 to 2,500 or 3,000 TWh in 2050 in Global Ambition and Distributed Energy respectively.

5.4.1 Role of non-energy sectors

All sectors need to decarbonise.

The fully integrated COP 21 scenarios confirm that reaching a net zero economy by 2050 requires the contribution of non-energy related sectors, such as the decarbonisation of agriculture and meat production, and requires further afforestation. It should be noted, that for non-CO₂ emissions (methane, N₂O, F-gases) and LULUCF, the TYNDP 2022 scenarios rely on data provided in the Impact Assessment and Long-Term Strategy of the European Commission.

Energy and Global Ambition. Non-CO₂ emissions reduce in both scenarios from 627 Mt in 2022 to 288 Mt in 20501. This is also illustrated in Figure 36. Methane emissions cover the largest part of the non-CO₂ emissions. This is mostly enteric fermentation from cattle and anaerobic waste. It also covers methane leakage from gas production, processing and transportation, but this only accounts for a small share (~5 %)2. Negative emissions from LULUCF increase from 264 Mt in 2018 to 425 in 20503, as shown in Figure 37.

1 Non-CO₂ emissions for 2030 are also taken from the Impact Assessment (MIX-non-CO₂ scenario). The Impact Assessment does not provide appropriate non-CO₂ emissions for 2050. Therefore the post 2030 figures were taken from the EC Long Term Strategy and consider consumer preference changes and technical mitigation.
2 For more information, see: https://energy-community.org/dam/jcr:1cbf8c52-f0df-4007-b0bc-f1b75ed93cb8/ECS_methane_emissions_052021.pdf
3 https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/publication/commission-staff-working-document-swd2020176-impact-assessment-stepping-europe%E2%80%99s-2030_en. The figures for 2030 are based on the FRL scenario, which sets the total net LULUCF removals at a level similar as in 2018. The 2050 figures are based on the Net-zero GHG scenario.

Figure 36: Non-CO₂ emission assumptions

Figure 37: Emissions and negative emissions from LULUCF

The TYNDP 2020 scenario building exercise has already shown that to decarbonise all sectors as well as all fuel types, additional measures such as CCU/S are needed, also in combination with bioenergy. The TYNDP 2022 scenario assumptions for CCS are summarized in Figure 38.

The Global Ambition scenario shows an increased application of carbon capture and storage (CCS), with up to 662 Mt per year by 2050. This assumption was based on the Net Zero by 2050 study from IEA4. Distributed Energy foresees some limited use of CCS (up to 64 Mt).

4 https://www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050. This study assumes up to 7.6 Gt of carbon capture by 2050 globally. For TYNDP 2022 it was assumed that 10 % of the global CCS is accounted for by the EU-27. This assumption is based on the current share of the EU-27 in the global GHG emissions. IEA also foresees the application of direct air capture (DAC), but these negative emissions are not considered in the calculations

Figure 38: Carbon capture and storage assumptions

5.4.2 Compliance with the EU Climate and Energy objectives

Both Distributed Energy and Global Ambition comply with the European climate and energy objectives, in particular the greenhouse gas reduction targets. On 11 December 2019 the European Commission has announced the European Green Deal and since then published several policy strategies, among others the Energy System Integration strategy (ESI) and EU Hydrogen strategy for the European Union.

On 17 September 2020 the European Commission reconfirmed its proposal of reducing GHG emission by at least – 55 % by 2030 and reach climate neutrality by 2050. This was accompanied by a supporting impact assessment.

COP 21 scenarios meet the 2030 targets and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Figure 39: GHG emissions in Distributed Energy and Global Ambition

Both Distributed Energy and Global Ambition foresee a reduction of GHG emissions of at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to the 1990 level. Distributed Energy reaches carbon neutrality by 20505 and Global Ambition already achieves carbon neutrality around 2045.

5 Carbon neutrality (or net zero) means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration, for example through land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF).

The EU needs to become carbon negative in 2050.

The development of large-scale decarbonisation technologies can contribute to accelerate the decarbonisation of the European economy and reaching carbon negativity after 2045–2050 to be on the trajectory to meet the COP 21 objectives.

Reaching carbon negativity in the second half of the century is necessary to recover from the overshoot of the carbon budget defined to comply with the COP 21 objective of limiting the amount of GHG by the end of the century to limit the global temperature increase to +1.5 °C.

5.4.3 Carbon budget assessment

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. For the purpose of the TYNDP scenarios, this target has been translated by ENTSOG and ENTSO-E into a carbon budget to stay below +1.5 °C at the end of the century with a 66.7 % probability.

The calculation of the carbon budget is based on the exchange with CAN Europe for the TYNDP 2020 Scenarios. It includes emissions and removals from agriculture and from LULUCF.

Between 2018 and 2020, the EU already consumed 17 % to 21 % of its CO₂ budget left until 2100.

In TYNDP 2020 ENTSOG and ENTSO-E used an EU-28 carbon budget based on population for the period 2018-2100. For TYNDP 2022 ENTSOG and ENTSO-E benchmark their scenarios against a carbon budget based on population, as well as a carbon budget based on equity6. To this end, the carbon budgets were recalculated, now considering the EU-27 scope and the historic emissions in 2018 and 2019.

Table 1 provides an overview of the estimated carbon budget threshold following different methodologies. In 2018 and 2019 the EU already consumed a substantial part of the remaining carbon budget. As a result, the remaining EU-27 carbon budget is 35.1 Gt CO₂eq by population and 26.7 Gt CO₂eq by equity.

6 The main approaches to define the European share in the global carbon budget are based on population or on equity. A methodology based on population assumes that all earth citizens are allowed to emit the same amount. A methodology based on equity assumes that developed nations should take responsibility for their high-carbon path to industrialisation during the 19th and 20th centuries. The calculation based on equity provides a lower carbon budget for the EU than a calculation based on population.

MethodBased on populationBased on equity

Table 1: Remaining carbon budget expressed in Gt of CO₂ equivalents

Carbon budget overshoot before 2035 seems inevitable.

The cumulative emissions of Distributed Energy and Global Ambitions have been assessed and benchmarked against aforementioned carbon budget thresholds. Figure 40 provides an overview. It can be concluded that with the current pace of annual GHG emissions, an overshoot of the calculated budget seems unavoidable.

By 2022 it is expected that the EU-27 already consumed between 30 and 40 % of the remaining carbon budget, depending on the calculation method. Despite the ambitious decarbonisation trajectories set in both the scenarios, the carbon budget based on population is reached around 2032. The budget based on equity is reached around 2027.

Technologies to achieve negative emissions are essential to meet the COP 21 objectives.

In Global Ambition the net cumulative emissions peaks around 2045. Renewable energy combined with CCS contributes to bending the curve and recovering from the carbon budget overshoot. Total cumulative emissions add up to 44.8 Gt by 2050, which means an overshoot of 9.7 Gt based on population and 18.0 Gt based on equity.

Distributed Energy shows slightly higher cumulative emissions of 51.3 Gt, which represents an overshoot of between 16.2 and 24.5 Gt. This means that in both scenarios net negative emissions have to be achieved after 2050 to reach the 1.5 °C target by 2100, with BECCS or direct air capture (DAC) technologies for example.

Figure 40: Cumulative emissions in the COP21 scenarios

5.4.4 Carbon footprint of energy

Electricity generation

Aiming at an earlier decarbonisation, emissions of the electricity sectors already strongly decrease to reach between 127 and 282 MtCO₂ in 2030 which is a decrease of at least 81 % and 64 % compared respectively to 1990 and 2018. In 2040 emissions of the COP21 scenario only represent 107 MtCO₂ for Distributed Energy and 81 MtCO₂ for Global Ambition.

The decarbonisation of flexible thermal power generation necessary to the reliability of the system is ensured by a switch from natural gas, coal and oil to biomethane, synthetic methane, and renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. Such an approach is more economic than capital intensive investments in CCU/S for power generation due to the decreasing number of running hours.

Figure 41: Emission of electricity generation for EU27 (Excluding dedicated RES for Power-to-Methane production (see. Configuration-5 in Scenario Building Guidelines))

It has to be noticed that such decrease occurs in parallel to a fast-growing power generation supporting both direct electrification and electrolysis-based fuels. As an illustration carbon intensity is halved between 2030 and 2040 moving from 37 to 20 tCO₂/MWh) for Distributed Energy, the most electrified scenario.

In 2050, carbon intensity of electricity is negligible with only 1 gCO₂/kWh for Distributed Energy and 6 gCO₂/kWh for Global Ambition.

Figure 42: Carbon intensity of power generation for EU27 (idem)

Electrolysers are supplied both by dedicated RES and the electricity market. When the first source ensures a carbon free production of synthetic fuels, electrolysis from the market may still be based on carbon emitting sources. As the electricity and hydrogen system is price-driven, the model avoids running electrolyser if it triggers fossil power generation.

Nevertheless, some must-run constraints up to 2030, minimum operation of CHP, hydrogen supply and demand requirement may result in electrolyser operating on few hours with a low carbon content. Such a situation may be considered as being favourable to the reach of carbon neutrality if the alternative would be more carbon intensive.


Pure hydrogen contains no carbon and produces water when burned with oxygen, making it a fully carbon free energy carrier. It can replace methane in almost all applications where it is used for its energy, not as a feedstock, and is an acknowledged candidate to decarbonise energy intensive sectors.

Furthermore, the hydrogen production potential in the EU is rather significant since it can be produced in various ways. However, not all production technologies are equivalent in terms of CO₂ emissions and hydrogen can either be:

  • as carbon intensive as methane if directly produced from Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) or Autothermal reforming (ATR),
  • low-carbon content if it is produced from SRM/ATR with carbon capture and storage (CCS) with a current CO₂ capture rate of 90 %,
  • carbon neutral if produced from renewable or nuclear electricity and electrolysis,
  • carbon negative if produced from renewable biomethane associated with CCS (BECCS for Bio Energy + CCS)

The model used by the ENTSOG and ENTSO-E is built to minimize the overall system cost (including CO₂ emission cost). As a result, some carbon-emitting plants may be in operation at the same time as electrolysers preventing a zero carbon footprint of hydrogen production. In 2050, electrolysis-based hydrogen will have only a marginal carbon footprint around 1 gCO₂/kWh for Distributed Energy and around 8 gCO₂/kWh for Global Ambition.

In addition, the following graph illustrates the fact that solar and wind increase far exceed the need to replace fossil fuels. It ensures that the additive principle of parallel RES and electrolysis development can be met.

Figure 43: Evolution of electricity demand for electrolysis compared to RES development