Energy 2020: Exploring the European Commission’s Proposed Strategy

In November the European Commission published its communication on the EU’s new energy strategy for the years up to 2020 in a fl urry of excitement. But what exactly does the communication say, and how will this affect Europe’s wind energy industry?

As EWEA fl agged up in its initial press release, part of the communication contains a sharp warning that the EU is set to fail on its climate and energy targets if there is not a defi nitive shift towards new technologies such as renewable energy.

It stresses the need for greater financial resources to implement what is planned, specifically mentioning the “over 140 GW of offshore wind power currently being planned […] mostly in the North Sea.”

Not only this, but Europe could lose ground to ambitious new movers such as China and the US in areas such as wind and solar energy, says the Commission.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the European Commission’s by no means exaggerated warnings concerning the EU’s targets and leadership”, said Justin Wilkes, EWEA’s Policy Director. “Europe needs to step up its game if it  wants to remain ahead in the renewable energy industry and properly address its energy and climate challenges.”

The European Commission warns that Europe still has a “fragmented” energy market (for more on this issue, read the mini-focus on p. 40) and says the implementation of internal market legislation is “disappointing”. It lists the implementation of the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, the upgrading of energy infrastructure, building of offshore grids and reinforcing of internal electricity infrastructure as crucial for the development of a functioning internal electricity market.

It warns that “Today’s grid will struggle to absorb the volumes of renewable power which the 2020 targets entail (33% of gross electricity generation).” This is utting the security Europe’s energy supply at risk, says the Commission.

One of the most talked-about parts of the strategy was the €1 trillion fi gure cited by Commission as the amount of energy investment needed in the next decade in order to build new capacity, modernise infrastructure, and support the move towards zero carbon electricity. The money will mostly come from electricity consumers except for projects of European interest such as “strategic infrastructures”, which could be granted EU funding,  says the Commission, which also emphasises the need to streamline permitting procedures for new projects.

The strategy also discusses achieving an energy effi cient Europe, building an external EU energy policy, helping consumers have more knowledge and choice regarding their energy suppliers and bills and introducing financial incentives to reduce the energy consumption of Europe’s buildings and integrate the European energy market.

The EU heads of state and government will discuss the strategy at the energy summit to be held in February. The Commission plans to propose legislative initiatives in the next 18 months.

“The real test of the new energy strategy will be the strength of these legislative proposals and whether national governments support and implement them”, said Wilkes. “We encourage the European Commission to think big”.



Source: ewea, February 07, 2011