EU pushes clean power at two levels

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Both the European Commission and European Parliament are pushing hard for greater use of renewables in the electricity supply mix. On July 4, the parliament overwhelmingly adopted a new report, by German MEP Peter Monbaur, setting a target for renewables to meet 15% of the European Union's primary energy demand by 2010. Today's level is 5.2%. The report urges far reaching action to achieve the target, including an increase in renewables research and development funding to match that spent on nuclear -- and access to Europe's electricity grid for all renewable energy generators. In Brussels, Energy Commissioner Christos Papoutsis is also voicing his increasing commitment to renewables. His office is currently preparing Europe's first renewable energy strategy, due to be published as a "communication" by the end of the year. According to Joanna Tachmintzis of Papoutsis' office, the strategy is being prepared as a "framework for national governments to use different types of fiscal instrument" to assist the market penetration of renewables. "We have got to help the industry arrive at a critical mass so that it can achieve greater penetration," she says. Papoutsis, speaking in July, pointed out that the major barrier for renewables "is not how to solve problems technically, but how to achieve market penetration."

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