Urgent action needed for EU's 2020 targets

EUROPE: Urgent action needed for EU's 2020 targetsEuropean renewable energy experts are urging the European Commission to watch closely the progress of EU states towards the renewable-energy generation targets they must reach by 2020.

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Wind power alone is expected to represent about one-third of all renewables generation by then, according to an analysis of the national renewable energy action plans by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

The 27 EU states are collectively planning to slightly exceed the target of sourcing 20% of final energy consumption from renewables. This calls for an additional 85GW onshore wind capacity to be installed across Europe over the next ten years, and for large offshore developments in the North Sea.

EWEA policy director Justin Wilkes calls the plans "encouraging", praising the EU countries' acknowledgement that wind power needs to play a major role in reaching the targets. But Lucie Tesniere, a policy advisor at green energy umbrella body the European Renewable Energy Council, warns that the commission must push member states to deliver on their promises.

There is concern that the plans provide insufficient detail on what states will actually do to meet the targets. The economic analysis of the costs and benefits of planned measures is lacking in most plans.

Past experience shows the wind sector can overshoot goals if the right regulatory, policy and financial conditions are in place. But government intervention can significantly affect wind power development. Changes to incentive schemes in Spain and Italy in the past year have worried investors.

Although only two EU countries, Italy and Luxembourg, anticipate importing renewables from other member states under the so-called co-operation mechanisms, some energy experts believe this is the only way countries with low existing renewables capacity can reach ambitious goals. But more imports would place an additional burden on transmission capacity (see page 57).

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