With the growing realization that renewable energy sources can potentially compete against or even replace fossil fuels, many European countries have initiated several projects to harness and develop various renewable forms of energy.Palo Alto, California – July 9, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] By accelerating these efforts, the European Union (EU) is driving progress in meeting its objective of renewable energy sources accounting for 22 percent of the EU’s overall energy supply by the end of this decade. “Instead of viewing renewables as a threat to revenue, oil companies are broadening their energy base to include renewable energy technologies such as solar power, wind and hydrogen — currently the three main renewable energy sectors in Europe,” said Technical Insights analyst Vijay Shankar Murthy. Research efforts are in full swing to tap energy from relatively unexplored sectors such as geothermal, wave and biomass energy sources. These collective efforts are likely to reduce Europe’s dependence on oil imports from the Middle East and North Africa. The recent launch of the Clean Urban Transport for Europe (CUTE) project — a collaborative effort between GVB (a Dutch public transport company) and Shell Hydrogen — is one effort initiated by the EU toward large-scale application of renewable energy sources. The CUTE project was launched to evaluate the operational viability of operating fuel cell buses in dense traffic and varying climatic and geographic conditions across nine European cities. By bringing down the level of greenhouse emissions to comply with the standards of the Kyoto Protocol, this project is expected to drive movement towards a “hydrogen economy.” “Similar efforts will not only ensure a more secure energy supply for the EU, but enable adherence to the Kyoto Protocol by its member states,” Murthy said. Technical Insights said the emerging wave energy sector has also received a boost with the successful testing of “TiDel,” a wave energy device developed by SMD Hydrovision. Once commercialized, “TiDel” is likely to compete head on with wind energy devices in terms of cost-effective electricity production. “Since the ocean is a huge source for renewable energy, TiDel — widely considered to be a groundbreaking invention — is expected to intensify competition among participants in the renewable energy space,” says Shankar Murthy. Geothermal energy is another relatively unexplored renewable energy source that has been receiving greater attention of late. The Hot Dry Rock project, an R&D initiative at Soultz, France, is making concerted efforts to tap energy from aquifers present in the earth’s crust. The use of nanomaterials in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells — the medium used to tap solar energy — has substantially increased the efficiency of solar cells in the last few years. In fact, nanomaterials hold the key to the research efforts of the Energy Research Centre in Netherlands toward developing solar cells that could yield energy efficiency as high as 21 percent. “With all these ongoing projects along with some organized financial backup by the EU, renewables will become a far more dominant force than it has been,” Murthy said. Renewable Energy Technologies: Developments in Europe, a report from Technical Insights, covers this increased growth of renewables in Europe. It examines the leading renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave, biomass and hydrogen, including fuel cell technologies that are currently in vogue in Europe. The research provides a bird’s eye view of the emerging techniques and devices that have a critical role in tapping these energy sources.