Renewable Energy Targets Derailed in Europe

With the World Renewable Energy Conference taking place in Bonn, Germany in less than a week, the European Union evaluated their member states’ progress toward meeting EU renewable energy goals — and they’re not very happy with the results.

Brussels, Belgium – May 27, 2004 [] The EU’s European Commission (EC) originally set a target for the 15 member states (EU15) to achieve 22 percent of electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2010 and an overall target of a 12 percent share of renewable energy use for all purposes. Citing progress in only a few member countries, the EC said the target will likely be missed. The EC characterized the results from the remaining member states as “meager” and is now calling on the countries to step it up and make some real, measurable progress towards meeting the 2010 targets. “This communication comes at the right moment when Europe is facing a new increase of oil prices and is taking measures to curb greenhouse emissions,” said Vice-President Loyola de Palacio. “It is still time for Member States to change their policies so that renewable energies can finally take off in Europe.” This new evaluation also comes after the EU’s recent expansion to 25 member countries. Most of the ten new member states are small eastern-Eurpean countries that may find it more difficult to meet future EU renewable energy targets than the more wealthy and progressive EU founding members. In fairness to the EU member states, there is far less progress across the pond in the United States where the US federal government has made no formal targets at all for renewable energy, and has struggled just to provide the industries the bare miniumum they need in terms of tax credits. Only the efforts of certain states have helped spur renewable energy in any significant way. The EC is now proposing a thorough assessment of the proposal for a 20% target for the EU25 in 2020, which has been put forward by stakeholders and by the European Parliament. The EC said a review will be carried out at the latest by 2005, with a view to opening a debate in order to set, in 2007, a target for the period after 2010. To help push that along, the EC is also proposing additional concrete actions among member states at the national and community level. The following is a more detailed assessment of the EC’s RE target evaluation Evaluating the progress made by the EU15 towards achieving national targets for 2010 for electricity consumption from renewable energy sources With existing national policies and measures it is projected that the EU15 will achieve a share of only 18-19% of renewable energies as share of total electricity consumption instead of the 2010 target of 22%. The analysis shows that only four Member States (Germany, Denmark, Spain and Finland) are on track to achieve their national targets. These countries have implemented an attractive framework for renewable energies. However, several other Member States have recently adopted new legislative measures that could allow them to achieve their national targets. Almost twice as much wind power is likely to be installed by 2010 than was previously projected. The European wind industry is a world leader in this technology and has a world market share of 90%. In Denmark wind energy contributed around 14% in 2002 and nearly 16% in 2003. Wind energy has grown quickly to 60TWh in an average wind year but still accounts only for around 2.4% of EU electricity consumption. Moreover, the strong growth in wind has not been enough to outweigh the slow development of installations of new biomass capacities. Assessment shows that there is a need for better coordination of the policy framework in this sector. In general, further progress in improving grid access for electricity from renewable energy and removing administrative obstacles is essential for stable growth. Assessing the prospects of achieving the target of a 12% share of renewable energy in overall energy consumption in the EU15 by 2010 Not only the electricity sector, but also transport and heating as well as energy efficiency measures are important to achieve the 12% target in overall energy consumption by 2010. Several directives have been adopted in these areas, e.g. the promotion of biofuels, energy performance of buildings and the promotion of cogeneration. At best, with full application of this legislation, it has been predicted that a 10% share can be achieved. Extra actions on the heat sector are still needed to reach the 12%. The promotion of biofuels is now supported by tax exemptions in Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Italy, UK and Sweden. But efforts for the promotion of this sector must still be consolidated. Proposals for concrete actions at national and Community level The European Commission considers that the efforts made so far are on good track but not sufficient. Improved support programs should be developed, in full respect of the Treaty rules. It has been estimated that investments of euro 10 to 15 billion per year are necessary to achieve the 12% target in the EU15. These investments can be provided by the public sector, but will have also to be supported by the private sector Therefore, the wind energy success in three Member States must be applied to the rest of the EU, including feed-in tariffs, green certificates, market based mechanisms, tax exemptions, etc. – The EC proposes that the promotion of renewable energy sources be fully integrated in the structural and cohesion funds as well as EU’s international co-operation programes Research, and Technological Development and Demonstration (RTD) efforts should be enhanced and it is necessary to accelerate the pace of public support for RTD in renewables and energy efficiency in Europe. The EC will bring forward new concrete actions, in particular a coordinated biomass plan to enhance biomass energy development in the EU, a strengthened effort in favor of biofuels or an assessment for an off-shore wind policy for the EU, strengthening the necessary grid infrastructure. In view of the Bonn World Renewable Energy Conference in June 2004 the Commission confirms that energy, and in particular renewable energy, is one of the key priorities to alleviate poverty and to achieve long-term sustainable development. The Bonn conference aims to produce a strong political declaration together with an ambitious international action plan for the promotion of renewable energies.


Previous articleHoward opens up his green warchest
Next articleRenewable Energy Training Grants for Teachers

No posts to display