FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Europe could wean itself off fossil fuels and create a self-sustainable energy sector by spending around 2 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion) on solar, wind and other regenerative sources by 2040, according to a new study.
The report, led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said the continent would require annual investments of 140 billion euros by 2030 and 100 billion a year in the decade thereafter to get there.
While most of the sum would be needed for onshore wind expansion, solar, hydrogen and geothermal resources would be additional pillars of a strategy that would enable Europe’s electricity needs to be powered exclusively from renewables by 2030.
It would take another decade to convert the entire energy system, including things such as heating currently powered by oil or gas, to renewables, according to the study, which was shared with Reuters.
“These figures are considerable, but it is important to remember that the European countries are estimated to have spent additional 792 billion euros in the last year just on the status quo system to protect consumers from the effects of the energy crisis introduced by the Russian invasion into Ukraine,” the study said.
Last month, European lawmakers gave their final approval to legally binding targets to expand renewable energy faster this decade, a central part of Europe’s plans to curb climate change and shift away from fossil fuels.
The law raises the EU’s renewable energy targets, requiring 42.5% of EU energy to be renewable by 2030, replacing a previous 32% target.
The scientific study – commissioned by Aquila Capital, one of Europe’s largest private renewables investors – echoed industry criticism towards European regulation, asking for faster approval of projects to make sure targets were hit.
It said renewable energy supply would need to grow by 20% per year to meet expected power demand by 2030.
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(Reporting by Christoph Steitz, Editing by Rachel More and Alex Richardson)