Calling on dispatch

Renewable energy sources are a critical component of Europe’s decarbonization efforts, and are expected to provide 60 percent of the continent’s energy capacity by 2030, find senior partner Alexander Weiss and colleagues. However, wind and solar are intermittent sources of power—that is, they aren’t dispatchable. Without more clean sources of dispatchable capacity (battery systems and hydrogen, for example), Europe could face a dispatchable capacity gap of 116 GW by 2035—the equivalent of 19 percent of peak-load demand.

Assuming no new capacity is built, Europe could face a gap in dispatchable power by 2035.

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The main image is a vertical bar graph showing four bars representing 2021, 2025, 2030, and 2035. The bars are segmented into types of dispatchable power capacity in Europe in gigawatts. Overall, there is a visual decline in the use of coal, and no other method of production seems to visibly take up the slack. Each bar is crossed by a horizontal line which denotes the peak load demand. In 2025, production vastly outperforms the demand requirement, but by 2035 there is a shortfall of around 19% between the projected available capacity and the projected demand.

Footnote 1: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

Footnote 2: Comprises hydro and biomass.

Source: McKinsey Power Solutions EU Power Model, November 2022; Platts PowerVision; McKinsey analysis.

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To read the article, see “Four themes shaping the future of the stormy European power market,” January 27, 2023.