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EU roadmap: clean energy future at no extra cost

Commission study reveals irrelevance of coal and nuclear despite skewed accounting

Press release - December 15, 2011
Brussels - A roadmap published today by the European Commission exploring different energy pathways over the next 40 years has shown that an energy system based largely on renewables and efficiency will cost taxpayers no more than a system locking Europe into fossil fuels and nuclear energy, said Greenpeace. Renewables emerge as the dominant energy source, despite skewed calculations to keep nuclear energy and fossil fuels in the energy mix [1].

The irresistible rise of clean energy

Greenpeace activists raise a wind turbine on the beach at dawn in Durban, South Africa, the seat of UN climate change talks last week.


With much of Europe’s ageing energy system in need of an upgrade, the Commission has explored five pathways: one relying most on energy efficiency, one based on a mixture of technologies, one focussed on renewables, one on nuclear energy and one on coal and gas with carbon capture and storage. Overall investment costs (including electricity price, fuel costs, investments in energy efficiency and other structural costs) are forecast to be almost identical for all scenarios, including for business as usual.

The roadmap puts the share of renewables in total energy use by 2050 at between 55% (in the lowest scenario) and 75% (in the highest scenario) – up to 97% in the share of electricity consumption. In the high renewables scenario, nuclear power and coal are reduced to mere place-holders, accounting for under 1.5% and 1% respectively in total final energy use.

Greenpeace EU energy policy director Frauke Thies said: “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. The Commission will be tempted to overplay the role of coal and nuclear energy to appease the likes of Poland and France, but the numbers in the roadmap are unequivocal. It proves that a modern energy system can’t do without renewables and efficiency, but can easily consign coal and nuclear power to the past.”

Greenpeace supports the Commission's call to consider renewable energy objectives beyond 2020. “It is now up to the European Parliament and EU governments to commit to binding targets for renewables in 2030 and put Europe on a fast track to a clean energy system,” added Thies.


Note to editors:

[1] EU energy roadmap 2050 – Greenpeace analysis: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/Publications/2011/2050-energy-roadmap/



Frauke Thies – Greenpeace EU energy policy director: +32 (0)477 790415,  

Mark Breddy – Greenpeace communications manager: +32 (0)496 156229,


For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.