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European target set for renewables

An Action Plan for Renewable Energy Sources in Europe to supply 15% of conventional primary energy demand in the European Union by 2010 has been launched by a large grouping of renewables experts in public employ and industry representatives, with backing from a handful of European politicians. Meeting in Madrid from March 16-18, a conference of over 300 participants -- with a strong Spanish presence -- published The Declaration of Madrid calling on the EU and its members to promote and implement the plan. Renewables, including hydro, accounted for 6.7% of primary energy production in 1992, according to the the EU's Eurostat office.

Prior to the conference five working groups of representatives from industry and government agencies produced reports on thermal solar energy, solar photovoltaic, biomass and waste utilisation, wind, and small hydro while a sixth "integration" group looked at aspects common to all the technologies. The work, initiated by a Spanish foundation, Canovas del Castillo, was supported by three European Union directorates -- DG XII (research and development), DG XIII (telecommunications, information markets and research valuing) and DG XVII (energy) .

The three-page declaration recognises an urgent need to intensify the co-ordinated development of renewable energy sources in Europe, to set targets for their contribution to primary energy demand and to internalise the external costs of energy use. "The establishment of a large commercial market for renewable energy sources will only be possible when transparency in pricing and market forces is guaranteed," it states. Renewable energy is discriminated against on today's energy market and faces a number of barriers to development which should be tackled through "urgent and coherent" collaborative efforts, states the declaration. It identifies five lines of action: a review of energy policies and adaptation of them for meeting objectives of the plan; legislation and regulation to overcome discrimination against renewables; the promotion of fair competition through financial support and tax breaks; the support of continued research, development and dissemination of renewables technology; and information, education and training to improve the understanding of the potential, costs, benefits and opportunities of renewables in Europe.

As well as calling upon governments to implement the plan, the conference also recommends the establishment of a permanent forum to provide essential back-up and organise a second conference for 1996.

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