2 Juni 2004

Commission calls for strong renewables action but fails to set targets

The European Commission has warned that a majority of Member States will miss their targets for production of renewable energy unless decisive action is taken. It recommends improved support schemes for renewables as well as bringing forward concrete actions at national and EU level.

The statements came after the Commission published a new Communication on the share of renewable energy in the EU assessing the implementation of the Directive on the Promotion of Electricity produced from Renewable Energy Sources, adopted in September 2001.

The Directive set a target of 22% of electricity consumption from renewable energy sources by 2010. The Communication found that only a few Member States have implemented a framework for renewable energy sources and that only four – Germany, Denmark, Spain and Finland – are on track to meet their national targets. It estimates that under current policies the EU-15 will achieve a level of only 18 – 19% renewable share.

Commission Vice President and energy commissioner, Loyola de Palacio said: “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. There is still time for Member States to change their policies so that renewable energies can finally take off in Europe.”

However, Ms de Palacio was criticised for refusing to set new targets for renewable energy use.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Mark Johnston said: “Ms de Palacio’s irresponsible actions during the preparation of this document undermine Europe’s leading role in tackling climate change, damage investor confidence and will slow construction. Targets are the foundation on which other renewables policies are built. The current target expires in 2010, so a new longer term 2020 target remains an urgent need.”

WWF also condemned the lack of new targets. Giulio Volpi, WWF climate policy officer, said: “The failure to come up with a new renewable energy consumption target for 2020 will send a weak political message at a time when the EU should show leadership in the sector ahead of a global renewable energy conference next week in Bonn.”

Ms de Palacio said it would be “dishonest” to set 2020 targets at this stage. The Commission will wait until 2007 before setting post-2010 targets.

The Communication highlighted the rapid expansion of wind energy throughout Europe and estimated that at least twice as much wind power is likely to be installed by 2010 than was previously projected. However, the report noted that the strong growth in this sector has not been enough to outweigh the slow growth in other sectors.

The Communication says that the Commission will bring forward new concrete actions, in particular a coordinated biomass plan to enhance biomass energy development in the EU and a strengthened effort in favour of biofuels.

Coinciding with this Communication, WWF has produced a report saying that biomass could provide 15% of the energy needs of OECD countries and create up to 400,000 jobs.

Giulio Volpi said: “The big advantage that biomass offers over other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar is that it can be stored and used when needed. It can provide a constant, non-fluctuating supply of electricity.”

Jean Marc Jossart, Secretary General of the European Biomass Industry Association, said: “There is a huge untapped biomass resource across Europe with potential for delivering sustainable energy on a wide scale. If governments and the power sector do not act now to encourage biomass as a long term, stable and secure option for renewable energy, they will lose out on a big opportunity to fight climate change and increase energy security.”

The World Renewable Energy Conference starts on June 1 in Bonn.

© Faversham House Group Ltd 2004

Source: Edie weekly summaries vom 2004-05-28.

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