Two different challenges with regard to the future development of the EU energy system and the question of the "security of energy supply" are currently being faced.
Firstly - as shown by the overview of future prospects of fossil and nuclear energy reserves - the era of cheap and abundant conventional energy resources appears to be coming to an end. This means that maintaining reliable supply levels implies significant and timely investment in new and more expensive oil and gas production, which will put upward pressure on world market prices for oil, gas and, to a lesser extent, coal - with potential impacts for economic development and growth. Furthermore, the geographical concentration of oil and gas export potential, combined with newly emerging large energy importing economies (i.e. China, India) can be expected to intensify international competition for market access to the declining resources and, ultimately, may also generate international conflicts.
Distinct from these issues, a second challenge has emerged. Climate change requires substantial reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, which essentially means using less energy and switching to carbon neutral energy carriers.
Both challenges require determined and timely action from the EU and its Member States, as well as from the international community at large. A conventional, albeit advanced, "business as usual" (BAU) strategy is likely to face increasing problems when trying to cope adequately with these simultaneous challenges.
In order to analyse important strategies and/or technology decisions (higher/lower nuclear share in electricity generation; increased energy efficiency and use of CHP; increased use of renewable energies) and highlight a range of possible future energy solutions for the EU25, five different scenarios have been developed according to the strategies and targets requested by the ITRE Committee.
The report starts with brief technical descriptions of these scenarios, after which follows a detailed discussion of the policy choices and challenges embodied by the scenarios in a number of energy areas and relevant framework policies.