Energy transition: power companies can’t do it on their own

Ethical Markets Green Prosperity, Resource Efficiency

Most readers will probably remember the “Roadmap 2050” that was published last year by the European Climate Foundation (ECF). It made quite a splash in Brussels and internationally.

The Roadmap has led a quiet existence since that time, but ECF itself has continued working hard to influence climate policy in Europe. For example, they have been cooperating actively with the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Energy, which is working on its own Energy Roadmap 2050, a crucial document which is expected to be be published in November.

The main conclusion from the ECF’s Roadmap was that a transition to a decarbonised economy is technically possible and financially affordable (though with some heroic assumptions on energy efficiency improvements). The 64,000 dollar question that remained, however, was where the huge upfront investments can be found that are needed to kickstart the renewable energy revolution.

Now ECF has come out with a new (much less publicised) report that addresses this question. ECF did extensive research over the past year or so, talking to institutional investors, energy companies and policymakers to find out where possible financial bottlenecks might exist and what may be done about them.

Many of their findings are quite interesting and sometimes surprising. For one thing, they found that the energy companies will not be able to finance the energy transition on their own. They need to draw in institutional investors. But they also found that institutional investors and energy policymakers live in completely different worlds. Institutional investors are “not part of the climate conversation”, as ECF puts it.

Which is a problem, because – and this is perhaps ECF’s most important conclusion – investors will not commit themselves to the renewable energy sector unless policymakers take away the biggest risk of all: the risk that they change their own policies.

EER’s editor Karel Beckman had a candid conversation with the main authors of ECF’s new report. You can read his article by clicking here.

More on the energy transition

Please note that today we have also posted a video film on our homepage featuring an interview with Stephan Singer, Director Global Energy Policy of WWF. It was made by energy consultancy KEMA for their Smart Grid Sherpa website. We hope you enjoy it.

Note on the Marcellus Shale

On 1 September we published a short article about a new study from the US Geological Survey on the potential gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale, the biggest shale gas play in the world. We wrote that the study seemed to indicate that the reserves in the Marcellus Shale were much smaller than previously thought.

This at any rate was a conclusion drawn in several news media and it did seem to us confirmed in the USGS report. This conclusion, however, turns out to be incorrect. It was based on a misinterpretation of the USGS report. We apologize for this inaccuracy and we have amended our story accordingly. You can read the new version by clicking here.

6-7 October 2011 | Zurich, Switzerland

7th European Conference on Green Power Marketing 2011

The conference brings together market players and decision makers of the renewable energy industry and addresses the subject “The Age of Renewable Energy: Key Strategies of Market Players”. Two compact days of expert presentations and discussions will bring into focus the latest trends and developments in Europe’s renewable energy markets.


3rd Energy Package podcast

Ana Stanic’s interview on the European Commission’s future energy directives.



Coming up on European Energy Review
  • New report: how to build a European-wide CO2 pipeline network
  • The prospects of geothermal energy
  • European Climate Foundation on how to finance the European energy transition
  • Renewable energy ambitions of Scotland
  • Shale gas fight in France


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