EWEA: EU Commission Neglects Renewables as Key Option for Energy Independence

The European Energy Security Strategy, published today, shows that policymakers have opted to swap dependency on Russia for unstable regions in the Middle East and North Africa, while largely neglecting increased production of renewables as a key option for energy independence, European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) stated.

EWEA EU Commission Neglects Renewables as Key Option for Energy Independence

The European Commission has ignored its own 2030 Climate and Energy Impact Assessment published in January, EWEA says.

The assessment cites that a 30% renewables target for 2030, together with higher energy efficiency, would cut Europe's reliance on gas imports by almost three times as much as the current proposal for 27%.

Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said: "The report from the Commission does not outline how Europe can reduce its energy dependence on external sources; instead it focuses on severing the reliance on Russia by shifting the dependence elsewhere."

Wilkes added: "In the first half of 2014, we have seen Ukraine fall into disarray and an IPCC report warning that investment in renewables is needed to avoid a climate catastrophe. Circumstance has forced Europe's leaders into a rethink. Now they must act to ensure the region's energy security for years to come."

"It is imperative that we make the switch over to renewables, particularly wind, sooner rather than later. Heads of State can start down that road by setting an ambitious 2030 renewables target that strives towards true energy security and independence," he said.

A 30% renewables target would save Europe an extra EUR260 billion in fossil fuel imports. Europe's wind industry is calling for a target of at least 30%, to be enforceable at national level.

This would spur green growth, create more jobs and attract investment while maintaining Europe's position as a global leader in wind energy.

Today, the EU imports 53% of the energy it consumes with each European spending over EUR2 per day on fossil fuel imports.

Energy dependency in Europe relates to crude oil (almost 90%), natural gas (66%), solid fuels (42%) and nuclear fuel (40%), according to the European Commission.

Six Member States depend on Russia as the single external supplier for all their gas imports. Three of which use natural gas for more than a quarter of their total energy needs.

For electricity, three Member States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) depend on one external operator for the operation and balancing of their electricity networks and for a large share of their electricity supply.

The EU's dependence on energy imports cost EUR545 billion in 2012. In 2010, renewable energy collectively avoided fuel imports of EUR30 billion.

As stated in the European Commission's Impact Assessment for the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, a 30% renewable target would mean 26% less gas imports. The Commission's proposal of 27% would reduce imports by just 9%.

The energy security report also advocates accelerating the construction of key interconnectors.

The Commission proposes to extend the current 10% interconnection target to 15% by 2030.

Press release, May 28, 2014; Image: flickr
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