Energy for the Future: Renewable Sources of Energy
The development of renewable energy - particularly energy from wind, water, solar power and biomass - is a central aim of the European Commission's energy policy. There are several reasons for this:
Renewable energy has an important role to play in reducing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions - a major Community objective.
Increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy balance enhances sustainability. It also helps to improve the security of energy supply by reducing the Community's growing dependence on imported energy sources.
Renewable energy sources are expected to be economically competitive with conventional energy sources in the medium to long term.
The need for Community support for Renewable Energy is clear. Several of the technologies, especially wind energy, but also small-scale hydro power, energy from biomass, and solar thermal applications, are economically viable and competitive. The others, especially photovoltaic (silicon module panels directly generating electricity from the sun’s light raher than heat), depend only on (how rapidly) increasing demand and thus production volume to achieve the economy of scale necessary for competitiveness with central generation. In fact, looking at the various sector markets in early 2003, it is probably not over-optimistic to conclude that the lion’s share of remaining market resistance to Renewables penetration relates to factors other than economic viability. This should be seen against the rapidly improving fiscal and economic environment being created in the EU both by European legislation itself swinging into full implementation and the Member States’ own programmes and support measures, which despite the short-term macro-economic background, are accelerating rapidly at the time of publication.
The European Commission's White Paper for a Community Strategy sets out a strategy to double the share of renewable energies in gross domestic energy consumption in the European Union by 2010 (from the present 6% to 12%) including a timetable of actions to achieve this objective in the form of an Action Plan.The main features of the Action Plan include internal market measures in the regulatory and fiscal spheres; reinforcement of those Community policies which have a bearing on increased penetration by renewable energies; proposals for strengthening co-operation between Member States; and support measures to facilitate investment and enhance dissemination and information in the renewables field.