A new report says the European Union can cut energy costs and meet its goals of cutting 80 percent of its carbon emissions by 2050 by investing heavily and rapidly in renewable energy and regional energy grids.
The European Climate Foundation report says the European Union needs to invest more than $9.5 trillion to meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. That is about two-thirds more money than the bloc has earmarked.
But the study, which was presented to the European Commission, also says Europe's energy bill will begin dropping by 2020, if it makes the right investments early on.
To meet these goals, European Climate Foundation CEO, Jules Kortenhorst, says European countries need to cut energy consumption and encourage long-term business investment in renewable resources. He says Europe must also establish transnational power grids.
"Why is that connectivity so important, that grid so important?" Kortenhorst asked. "Because it allows Europe to leverage the fact that we have solar in the south and wind on the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and biomass in central and eastern Europe and hydropower in Switzerland and Scandinavia. And bringing all these resources together allows for renewables to play an increasingly large part of the electricity supply in Europe."
Europe is at the forefront of emissions cutting efforts, but it continues to rely heavily on imported oil and natural gas. Last week, construction began on a new pipeline project that will allow Moscow to pump natural gas directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Other pipeline projects are in the works.
Kortenhorst says his foundation's study is a blueprint for a cleaner, less energy-dependent Europe.
"Over the course of time, as a result of the scenarios we have laid out, Europe would become less dependent on natural gas, and as a result would have more ability to provide its own energy and would need less gas imports from, for example, Russia," said Kortenhorst.
The study includes nuclear power in its energy mix, which remains deeply controversial in Europe. Kortenhorst says it also maps out alternatives for those countries opposed to nuclear energy.