"2050 might seem like a long way off, but the decisions we take today will have a big impact on our energy supplies in 40 years' time," said Arthouros Zervos, President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
With the G8 and EU already committed to an 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050, Zervos added: "We can't allow the politicians to make grand statements and leave the serious decisions to the next generation. Given the long life of power plants our vision for 2050 has to be reflected in the construction of new power plants from at least 2020 onwards."
"A fully renewable power sector is the only solution to reaching 80-95% CO2 reductions by 2050," he continued. "The remaining carbon emissions will be needed for other sectors, such as agriculture."
However, we should be talking about a "renewable energy economy" not a low carbon one, Professor Zervos said. "Renewable energies can provide 100% of Europe's power supplies by 2050 without any further contribution from any so-called low-carbon technologies."
Wind energy is already a mainstream power source in Europe, annual market growth has been impressive over the past 10 years - 23% on average. "Realistically, wind can provide 50% of power supplies by 2050 if the necessary changes to infrastructure and markets are made," said Christian Kjaer, EWEA's Chief Executive. "The potential is there and the industry is ready. All we have to do is maintain current growth rates on and offshore. I am also confident that other renewables can easily meet the other half of Europe's electricity needs".
"A pan-European grid is the first priority, but a clear vision of, and a strong political commitment to, the long-term energy mix is also essential." Kjaer explained that Europe needs to interconnect its electricity networks as a necessary step towards a truly integrated European electricity market.
An integrated power market is essential for the smart management of renewable energies, and lower the costs for consumers. "Energy is an international challenge," concluded Kjaer. "It is astounding that 24 years after establishing free movement of goods, services, capital and labour, the EU has not yet established a fifth freedom: free movement of electricity."