Academics in Denmark and Berlin have calculated Europe will need 400 GW of new solar and wind facilities per year from 2025 to 2035 to contribute to capping global temperature rises, in line with the Paris Agreement.

There is no route to a net-zero economy in Europe by mid-century without the tech needed to capture carbon from the air. That is a headline finding by researchers at Danish and German universities, who said the continent annually needs 400 GW of solar and wind power generation capacity from 2025 to 2035.

Academics from Denmark’s Aarhus University modeled the European energy system’s route to net-zero – and to limiting global temperature rises this century to 1.5 C – with the help of colleagues from Technische Universität Berlin. The findings were published last week in Joule, and highlighted on the EurekAlert science website.

The electricity grid will need strengthening to host the flood of intermittently generating renewables needed, according to the research. Power-to-X technology, including green hydrogen production, will also be needed to power hard-to-abate industries, aviation, shipping and freight transport. Clean hydrogen will be required to help even out power supply from solar and wind farms.

To date, Europe’s record for new annual solar and wind generation capacity is 50 GW, according to the paper’s authors. The researchers said raising the maximum temperature rise this century to 2 C would require less annual renewables capacity, but would be more costly once the effects of worsened climate change were factored in.

The modeling was performed with the Prime computing cluster at Aarhus University.