Sustainable Energy

Something strange has happened with the EU Climate and Energy package. On Monday January 21, when it was previewed in a presentation by no one less than Commissioner Barroso at a conference in London, he said that the goal was 20-20-20 by 2020. Reduction in GHG with 20%, Share of renewable fuels in energy mix should be 20% and Energy Efficiency should be improved with 20%.

On Wednesday January, 23 the Commissioner for Energy signed a memo where the target is reiterated, but as the text goes on the energy efficiency part disappears (!) and the text is a long advocacy for the blessings of renewable fuels. Good, but is it good enough?

Then at last the package was presented to the world by Commissioner Barroso on the same Wednesday, and look what has happened. The energy efficiency part has been dropped entirely! Now the goal has been shifted to 20-20 by 2020.

The most valuable part of the package, which can be estimated to roughly 200 Billion Euro savings Europewide yearly, was dropped. The part that saves you money was dropped in favour of parts that cost money. Though commendable, renewable fuel costs where energy efficiency saves.

A case for Hercule Poirot?

What could reasonably have has happened in this short period Monday-Wednesday? Is it as some say that energy efficiency always looses out to energy supply because politicians like machines with moving parts and detests the dull invisible energy efficiency? Does energy efficiency dissolve into thin air in presence of renewable fuels? It should not, since the two are genuine complements and not rivals.

Is it as some political analysts say that energy efficiency was only an indicative target and therefore should be dropped since the two others are committing? Or is it as some mathematically oriented analysts say that with aggressive energy efficiency improvements it will be easier to fulfil the renewable quotas and therefore energy efficiency is either implicit or redundant.

Or could it be that Msr Barroso has been robbed on his way from London to Brussels? If so it could be a case for a Belgian detective and we would suggest Hercule Poirot to be put on the case.

Whichever the explanation is, this is sloppy handling from the commission, not the least since several member states are crying to high heaven for being maltreated by GHG-quotas and Renewable targets. It would have been so much easier for all to be able to point at a simple solution/redeemer like energy efficiency. Now that part is out of focus.

The Renewable quotas could open the back door

Looking closer at the Renewable quotas there are other signs showing that forces have been working in the shadow in Brussels for some time. Sweden and Latvia for instance have both been lobbying heavily, arguing that the quota proposed for them are too tough since they have already achieved so much!

Many of these lobbyists may have forgotten that the chance to do more in the future depends more on the remaining potential they have, than on what their grandparents have done in the past. Most of what the grandparents did was also based on the comparative advantage they had from access to hydropower.
None of the lobbyists seem to have taken wind and solar into account.

But they were efficient. If we look into the targets and plot them against the share that each of the countries have we see that the pattern is clearly linked to present situation. High share today low demand for the future; Low share today high demand. (In the diagram below it has been compensated for a possible 20% energy efficiency improvement in all countries. The remaining part has to be covered with new renewable fuel)

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So for many countries it seems to be very wise to begin with energy efficiency and thereby ease the task to find the renewable sources. Two countries, Sweden and Latvia, do not have to dig up any renewable kWh if they instead do the energy efficiency part.

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