Abstract for: Exploring carbon futures in the EU power sector

The European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in combination with other renewable electricity (RES-E) support schemes such as (premium) feed-in tariffs or tradable green certificates do not guarantee a carbon neutral power sector in 2050. This paper shows that many plausible futures of high carbon emissions exist when no substantial efficiency measures are taken in high growth futures. Using System Dynamics (SD) in combination with Exploratory Modelling and Analysis (EMA), it seems that the main European energy policies might result in high levels of carbon abatement but have very limited guarantees whatsoever. There are potential ‘free lunches’ for policy makers to reduce carbon emissions but these will probably not suffice when ambition levels remain high. This paper sheds new light on the path to find policy synergies for the European electricity sector with the aim to rule out lurking catastrophic futures of high carbon emissions combined with high costs for society.