The South East Europe region will need to replace more than 30% of its current fossil fuel generation capacity by the end of 2030, and more than 95% by 2050, according to the long-term energy policy of the European Union. How to obtain these objectives is a policy challenge that requires consistent implementation of a renewable energy policy that provides incentives for new investment. Through a five modelling exercises incorporating the gas and power markets, the transmission network and the macroeconomic system, The South East Electricity Roadmap (SEERMAP) Report elaborates comprehensive scenarios for the transformation of the electricity sector towards a full decarbonisation of electricity generation and a reduction of emissions by 91% by 2050 compared to 1990. The research was carried out by a consortium of 5 partners led by the Hungarian-based Regional Centre for Energy Policy Research (REKK) and the Technical University (TU) in Vienna, and involved 9 local partners.
The Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) has been the local partner, who was responsible for the Bulgarian energy data verification, the analysis of the country’s renewable energy policy and the development of country-relevant policy recommendations. CSD also served as an intermediary between the research group and the Bulgarian energy ministry officials responsible for future energy strategy.
The SEERMAP Report has developed three core scenarios for energy transition in South East Europe including:
- A ‘no-target’ scenario reflects the implementation of existing energy policy (including implementation of renewable energy targets for 2020 and construction of all power plants included in official planning documents) combined with a CO₂ price (which is only envisaged from 2030 onwards for non EU member states). The scenario does not include an explicit 2050 CO₂ target or a renewables target for the electricity sectors of the EU member states or countries in the Western Balkans;
- A ‘decarbonisation’ scenario reflects a long-term strategy to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in line with the indicative targets of the EU for emission reduction goals by 2050 through an increasing carbon price and dedicated RES support.
- A ‘delayed’ scenario includes the initial implementation of business-as-usual energy policies and investment plans followed by a drastic shift in the policy direction starting from 2035 that includes RES support scheme and an accelerated phasing-out of coal generation capacity driven out by the high carbon price and replaced by renewable energy investment.
Some of the key findings from the study include:
- The SEERMAP region would have an electricity mix with 83-86% renewable generation, mostly hydro and wind, and a significant share of solar by 2050. If renewable support is phased out and no CO₂ emission target is set, but a carbon price is applied, the share of RES in electricity consumption will rise to around 58% in 2050 from current levels.
- Even with RES support phased out after 2025, the region’s electricity sector will experience a very significant decarbonisation by 2050, with a reduction in emissions of almost 91% by 2050 compared with 1990.
- Driven by high carbon price, a significant amount of fossil fuel based generation capacity will be replaced by 2050. Coal, lignite and oil capacities are phased out almost completely under all scenarios resulting in lower and unprofitable utilisation rates.
- Natural gas remains relevant as a transition fuel to temporary replace the phased-out coal generation capacity.
- Decarbonisation will require continued RES support during the entire period. However, the need for support decreases as the electricity wholesale price increases and thereby incentivises significant RES investment even without support.