How carbon-free energy around the clock can work

And they also help decarbonise electricity system as a whole

Hourly CFE targets also benefit the electricity system as a whole. By pursuing hourly matching, companies can reduce overall electricity system emissions faster. If for example in Ireland, 25% of corporate and industry electricity demand achieved 100% 24/7 carbon-free energy in 2025, it would reduce Irish emissions by 0.6 million tons of carbon dioxide per year compared to annual matching, equivalent to 15% of Ireland’s power sector emissions.

The good news: it’s less expensive than you’d think

But how can companies meet these targets, and what does it cost? Our analysis shows that getting to 90-95% CFE doesn’t cost significantly more than annual matching. But the final 5%, because of those long winter Dunkelflauten, triples the cost if it is achieved using only wind, solar, and battery storage.

Fortunately, there are other technologies at hand: long-duration storage, such as chemical storage in the form of hydrogen, can help to store electricity for days or weeks. Carbon capture and storage, advanced geothermal, or advanced nuclear technologies, can contribute. If these technologies are available, the cost of 100% CFE is reduced.

More good news: it spurs technology innovation

Pursuing 24/7 CFE will create early markets for less mature technologies that are needed in the medium-term. Just as solar PV costs plummeted thanks to early markets and improvements in manufacturing, 24/7 CFE could accelerate the development of long-duration energy storage and clean dispatchable power. The whole power system will need these technologies as it decarbonises, so early development will benefit everyone.

To read more, please see our study.