Renewables report dropped -- EU side-steps the issue

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The European Commission has back-tracked from publishing its anticipated report evaluating progress towards the EU target of 12% energy consumption from renewables by 2010 -- including a 22% share for renewables of total electricity use. The report, by the Directorate General of Transport and Energy (DG Tren), was to have been released on May 19 to the European ministerial council and parliament. .

A month earlier, however, a leaked draft of the communication was heavily criticised by environmental groups who objected to the commission's refusal to propose an increased target for renewables. Earlier this year, the European parliament called for the adoption of a target of 20% by 2020. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund are demanding a target of 25% by 2020.

The commission's view is that as a first step national policies need to be in place to put Europe on track to meet its existing goals. Only then will the EU have a realistic basis to build a more ambitious renewable scenario post 2010, it says.

The draft report unsurprisingly states that Europe is set to fail to meet its existing renewables targets. More likely it will achieve only an 18-19% share of electricity production from renewables instead of the 22% goal, it says, and 10% of total energy consumption rather than the target 12%. It blames a number of member states who have not yet introduced policies in line with their targets. The commission analyses progress reports from each country, and concludes that only Denmark, Germany and Spain are on track. The Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, France and Finland have started to implement policies, but for all in this group the omens for achieving their targets are a mixture of good and bad. Furthest behind are Greece and Portugal, while Italy and Luxembourg are an unknown quantity -- it is too soon to assess whether the policies they adopted this year will work.

exceeding targets

Today, renewables supply 15.2% of electricity demand. Most of the growth needed to meet the 22% is expected to come from wind and biomass. Wind's performance is set to far exceed the 40 GW by 2010 that the commission had hoped to see installed; industry estimates put the figure at 75 GW, mainly delivered by Germany, Spain and Denmark, which contribute 84% of the total wind capacity in the EU's fifteen member states up to May. But wind's success cannot make up for the slow growth of biomass, it says.

The 75 GW by 2010 figure for wind quoted by the commission -- enough to provide 5.5% of electricity in the EU 15 -- comes from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). But it will only be reached in a positive policy climate, says EWEA in a substantial new publication: Wind Energy-The Facts. The report runs to 330 pages over five volumes and provides a detailed overview of the sector. It covers technology, cost, prices, environment, industry and employment, market and research and development. EWEA president Arthouros Zervos calls it "a reservoir of information to assist in guiding decisions on energy matters across a new Europe of 25 nations, and worldwide."

The report claims considerable potential for wind in the ten new member states and Russia. The exploitable onshore wind resource for the EU-25 is estimated to be at least 600 TWh and the offshore resource up to 3000 TWh, it says.

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