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United Kingdom

Benefits of security of supply ignored

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The European Commission is overlooking the potential of renewable energy to increase the security of energy supplies, says the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). In a draft policy paper outlining a strategy for the security of energy supply, the EC claims to recognise the value of renewables, but it fails to follow it up with concrete recommendations for action, says EWEA. Not only can renewables be of benefit to the EU environment and economy, they can also contribute to a larger indigenous primary energy base, says EWEA.

It criticises the draft policy for narrowing the debate mostly to measures to limit demand. "When the paper does pay attention to supply measures, it focuses almost solely on nuclear," says EWEA's Christian Kjaer. In its response to the EC, EWEA states: "The role of nuclear power should be discussed, but there are viable and more obvious supply side options which are less risky, which are no threat to national security, and which enjoy more public and political support."

The policy paper accepts that most renewables can compete with electricity from gas and are significantly cheaper than coal, if the external costs, or pollution costs, of fossil fuels are taken into account. But, as EWEA points out, these findings are hidden in the little-distributed accompanying technical document, "and thus effectively buried with little chance of becoming part of the public debate."

EWEA disagrees with the Commission's suggestion that development of renewables should be co-financed by "profitable" sources of energy such as gas, oil and nuclear, saying the strategy would be fraught with problems. Instead it calls for taxes and state aid to overcome the distorting effects of not having the full costs to society reflected in the prices of conventional energy sources. Meantime, state aid should be removed from environmentally damaging energy sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear, it adds.

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