The vice president of the European Commission says the use of renewable energies is one of the key elements for a sustainable energy development.
BRUSSELS, Belgium, BE, 2001-04-05 <SolarAccess.com> In a speech in Brussels last month, Loyola de Palacio explained that changes in the electricity market will change how people view electricity. Deregulation and consumer choice will require action from governments to avoid new market imbalances and will require “specific action to promote environmentally friendly ways to produce electricity, in particular by using renewable sources of energy.” “The EU (European Union) is on the right track in pursuing an active policy in favour of renewable energy sources,” she said. “The different policy and regulatory initiatives should lead to a market in renewable energies, that will deliver environmentally friendly products and services and make an important contribution to increased security of supply in Europe.” The opening of the continental energy market by 2005 is of high interest to the renewable energy industry, and consumer choice “is already driving many changes in favour of the renewables sector,” she explains. A growing number of utilities offer a green energy and consumers are willing and increasingly able to pay a premium for renewable electricity. Electricity deregulation in Europe “should address not only the economic needs of our society by lowering prices through competition; the liberalisation process must be compatible with our social and environmental objectives,” she adds. Member countries can impose public service obligations for environmental reasons and can place a priority on renewables, which many have done. Once adopted, a Common Position of Council that directs the use of renewables “will create the frame for a dynamic European market for electricity from renewable energy sources” and, as a result, will boost demand for green power and offer new opportunities for the European companies. “We cannot ignore the EU’s growing dependence on imports,” which will grow to 70 percent with 30 years. Last year’s green paper on security of supply mentions the promotion of renewable energy as a key element, and sets a target of doubling the share of renewables from 6 to 12 percent, and raising the share of renewables in electricity generation from 14 to 22 percent as “an important objective in any long-term European strategy for the securityof energy supply.” In that proposal, the Commission evoked the possibility of financing renewables by obliging the nuclear, oil and gas sectors to contribute toward a fund for the development of renewables. She says one option is to impose a para-fiscal tax to finance a regional or national fund for the necessary start-up investment.