Group of European countries aim to decarbonize their electricity system by 2035

Today, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, The Netherlands and Switzerland announce a joint ambition to decarbonize their interconnected electricity system by 2035, an important step towards a joint path to decarbonize the industrial heart of Europe.

This agreement was formed under the umbrella of the Pentalateral Energy Forum, chaired this year by The Netherlands. By 2040, the European electricity system is expected to be nearly decarbonized, considering the rapidly decreasing availability of emission allowances. With this agreement, the countries anticipate on this milestone by aiming to decarbonize their electricity sectors five years earlier, ensuring a smoother transition. Close collaboration and proceeding simultaneously also mitigates potential carbon leakage across the region.

Rob Jetten, climate and energy The Netherlands: "The electricity production of the pentalateral countries count for almost half of the production in the EU. So it is clear that decarbonizing our electricity systems swiftly will significantly decrease carbon emissions in Europe. The countries have a strongly interconnected electricity system, and can benefit from offshore potential in some areas and storage in other areas. I am confident in our collective capabilities, we are well on our way with extensive offshore wind energy plans, solar power, hydropower, hydrogen and other energy sources to power our region."

Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy: "With all of the energy legislation under the European Green Deal agreed, today’s announcement is an important step to implement our European ambitions to transition our energy system. A decarbonized electricity system will also increase energy security, and help reduce emissions in transport, industry and buildings through electrification and increased energy efficiency. Close collaboration between the Members of the Pentalateral Energy Forum will also be crucial to develop energy storage and integrate the rapid expansion of renewables across the region, including through the production of renewable hydrogen."

The collaboration will help make the decarbonization of the national electricity systems more feasible, mostly because of the possibility for joint planning of infrastructure, and because of the consequential cost efficiencies and knowledge-sharing. The key challenges are not only to ensure enough decarbonized electricity is produced, but also to ensure smooth transport and trade of energy across the region and to have sufficient energy storage. The future electricity system requires ample flexibility to accommodate for the variety of green energy sources and peak demand and eventually ensure that coal and gas-powered plants are no longer required.

The Pentalateral Energy Forum was formed in 2005 to integrate the electricity markets across the participating countries. The integration has had significant success over the years, yielding benefits for both consumers and producers of electricity and helping to integrate renewable electricity in the grid. It has also allowed for increased security of supply, and joint crisis preparations, which were very beneficial during the 2022 energy crisis. The Forum also played a groundbreaking role in the field of hydrogen, being among the first to call for an internal market for hydrogen.  Each year the Forum is chaired by the energy minister of one of the participating countries. The Netherlands will pass the baton to Belgium for the 2024 presidency.