A further expansion of solar and wind power is expected to lead to Europe’s power sector being decarbonised by 2045, according to a new report.

The survey of industry leaders by EY found they expect renewables will meet 80% of the energy requirements of Europeans by then. Onshore wind capacity is forecast to triple to 640GW by 2045, accompanied by offshore wind increasing to 470GW and solar posting a seven-fold rise to 950GW.

Overall, as much as 63% of the continent’s economy could be decarbonised by 2045.

But EY warned that the distribution system operators (DSOs) “must keep pace with new ways to generate, distribute and consume energy while becoming catalysts of change.”

The report said the current policy of “connect and reinforce” to bolt on additional capacity will become obsolete within the next five years.

Instead, DSOs will need to harness more flexibility within the power system.

Regulators will also need to make sure the right policies are in place to allow DSOs to change their business processes, prices and tariffs.

Growth of demand-side response

The report also highlighted the forecast increase the demand-side response sector, with between 120GW and 150GW expected to be available from resident, commercial and industrial providers by 2045.

EY said: “Compare the DSO to the town planner, who expands the road network to cope with increased traffic but, at some point, has to implement calming measures to control flow.

“Though DSOs can keep the network running in a reliable, affordable and sustainable way, before long, smart controls and intelligence to manage expanding and multi-directional energy flows will be needed.”

> Download EY's report