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Renewables could supply 100% of EU electricity needs, EU commissioner

EUROPE: Renewable energy could supply the whole of the EU's electricity consumption by 2050, according to the EU commissioner for climate change Connie Hedegaard.

EU commissioner for climate change Connie Hedegaard
EU commissioner for climate change Connie Hedegaard
Renewable energy could supply the whole of the EU’s electricity consumption by 2050, according to the EU commissioner for climate change Connie Hedegaard.

Speaking at EWEA’s annual conference, Hedegaard said: "When we talk about the electricity sector, not the total energy consumption, but electricity, then I think by 2050 we'll have 100% renewables in Europe. I think that is perfectly doable.

"Sometimes you risk confusing people because what's the difference between electricity and energy consumption. You will know [it], coming from the energy branch, there is a huge difference."

Hedegaard’s 100% target goes even further than a report last year by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council, which said 97% was attainable by 2050.

The view is also at odds with US energy strategy. In his recent state of the union address, Barack Obama said 80% of the country’s electricity would come from clean sources by 2035.

However, while wind and solar energy would be integral, Obama said US would need to bring in nuclear, clean coal and natural gas if it was to hit the target.

Hedegaard pointed out that recent events in Japan surrounding its Fukushima nuclear power plant would spur debate over national energy strategies.

She said: "I believe that if you ask people out there I think that many of them would say 'wow' and maybe it is interesting to see what is the potential in renewables in sun, in wind. I think in that sense there would be a change in the debate."

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