Energy Pathways to 2050

Carbon neutrality in 2050: contrasting scenarios under study.

In compliance with its legal obligations (Generation Adequacy Report) and at the request of the French government, in 2019, RTE launched a wide-ranging study on the evolution of the power system called “Energy Pathways 2050.” This project was undertaken at a crucial point in the public debate about energy and the climate, a debate that is shaping the strategies that will be adopted to move away from fossil fuels and achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, per the Paris Agreement goals. The process will involve a deep transformation of the economy and radical changes in the transport, industrial and building sectors, which to this day remain very dependent on oil, fossil gas, and even coal in some cases.

About the study methodology: :

  • 2 years of work
  • 40 consultation meetings with 120 organisations, 4,000 responses to the public consultation;
  • 6 production scenarios and 3 consumption scenarios under study, with variants;
  • The model simulates the operation of the electricity system on a European scale every hour of every year for 30 years;
  • And includes 200 weather chronicles from the IPCC which are tested at each of these hours.

Key findings : 

  • Reducing consumption through energy efficiency, and possibly energy sufficiency, is key to reaching climate targets
  • Energy consumption will decrease but demand for electricity will increase as it replaces fossil fuels
  • Accelerating France’s reindustrialisation by electrifying processes will increase its electricity consumption but reduce its carbon footprint
  • Carbon neutrality cannot be achieved by 2050 without significant renewable energy development
  • Without new nuclear reactors, renewable energy will need to be developed at a pace exceeding that seen in the most dynamic European countries
  • Building new nuclear reactors makes economic sense, particularly if it allows a 40 GW fleet to be in place in 2050 (existing plus new nuclear plants)
  • Renewable electricity has become a competitive solution. This is especially true in the case of large solar plants and onshore and offshore wind farms
  • The system will require very different types of flexibilities to ensure security of supply in the different scenarios.
  • Under all scenarios, the size of the power grid will need to be adapted rapidly to make the energy transition possible