Europe to miss renewables target

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Wind energy is the only renewable energy that will meet technology specific European Union targets for 2010 while overall the EU will fail to meet its renewables targets unless member states adopt additional policies.

These are the conclusions of a report with the catchy title, Progress of Renewable Energy: Target Setting, Implementation and Realisation (PRETIR). It was produced by consultants Ecofys, 3E and Fraunhofer ISI and funded under the EU's Altener research program. The program monitors progress towards European targets set out in a White Paper known as the Campaign for Take-Off and in directives on renewable energy and biofuels.

PRETIR predicts that under existing policies, member states will produce at most 18% of their electricity from renewables, falling short of the 22% target in the renewable energy directive passed last year. Only five countries will meet or exceed their non-binding targets: Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg and Netherlands.

Out of all the renewable technologies, wind power shows the largest growth with installed capacity expected to reach 54 GWe if existing and planned policies are continued, exceeding the White Paper projections of 40 GWe. Some 80% of installed capacity will be in Germany, Spain and Denmark. A high rate of growth is expected in France due to new legislation that came into force in 2001, although the market is sluggish as yet. Between 10% and 14% of wind capacity will be installed offshore -- mostly by Germany, Denmark and the UK.

Member states will need to increase their policy efforts, learning from the successful renewable policies in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, concludes the report. But it adds that potentially strong policy instruments are the new renewable energy obligations, linked to green certificates being introduced in Italy, UK, Sweden, Belgium and Austria. "The solution lies in high ambitions and flexible instruments," says director of Ecofys Kornelis Blok. "High ambition should be translated into practical policies." He cites sufficient financial support and adequate fines for failing to meet mandates as examples.

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