Sustainable Energy

An annual growth of 0.5% does not suffice

The European Union recently caused quite a political stir by announcing their ambitious new target of 20% renewable energy capacity in Europe by 2020. At the same time the likelihood that Europe will even approach its former renewables target of 12% by 2010 is growing smaller.

The French consultancy agency EurObserv’ER has published its 7th report on the State of Renewable Energies in Europe, and the conclusions are not very positive. The renewable capacity in the EU grew by only 0.5% in 2006, meaning that we are not even on course to reach the 2010 target. According to EurObserv’ER, only a few countries are making sufficient efforts to reach their individual target. This leads to the conclusion that ‘the different regulations and incentive instruments shall have to be evaluated and brought to a level that is equal to the ambitions of the objectives’.

This does not mean that it is all the fault of insufficient regulations. A major blow that was not predicted was the decline in hydroelectric power due to insufficient rainfall and snow. Besides, the fact that we are not on course is mainly due to insufficient growth in the early years between 1997 and 2004. Actually, 2006 saw a remarkable growth in wind power and biomass. Especially encouraging is that France, which used to lag behind in the renewable sector, is quickly catching up.

Probably most alarming is that the small growth in renewables is not accompanied by any real efforts to conserve energy. According to Jean-Louis Bal, director of ADEME (Renewable Energies and Energy Networks and Markets), only a complete change in the public mentality will suffice. He states that ‘our energy system shall have to be the object of a “demand” approach and no longer be a question of energy offer and supply. Analysing the demand to be met and constructing the energy offer as a function of this analysis and of environmental constraints can appear to be an obvious fact, but this is exactly the opposite of that which has always been done until now.’

Reference

7th report EurObserv’ER ‘State of Renewable Energies in Europe’

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