BRUSSELS, Belgium, April 9, 2002 (ENS) - Europe is betting its energy future on renewable energy sources and energy saving. Today, the European Commission proposed a new four year energy program "Intelligent Energy for Europe" covering the period 2003 to 2006. It will follow the current energy framework program, which is due to end on December 31.
With a budget of €215 million (US$189.4 million) the program implements the strategy outlined in a November 2000 policy paper on security of energy supply, founded on renewable energy sources and energy saving.
Today, 5.6 percent of Europe's energy supply is generated by renewable sources - wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. The aim is to increase this to 12 percent by the year 2010.
"In the field of energy, the EU must focus its efforts on specific action with a high added value, to enable us to manage our dependence on external energy and comply with our Kyoto commitments to combat climate change," says Loyola de Palacio, European Commission vice president responsible for energy and transport.
She is referring to the commitments of all European Union member countries under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by eight percent relative to 1990 levels in the five years between 2008 and 2012.
But if nothing is done, the projections of the European Environment Agency show that total emissions by the 15 EU member nations should increase between 1990 and 2010. Transport is the main offender; while it represents 28 percent of CO2 emissions, it will account for 90 percent of the increase in these emissions between 1990 and 2010.
Security of energy supply is a concern for Europe. If the EU takes no action it will be importing over 70 percent of its energy by 2030. "Such a level of dependence involves many economic, political and environmental risks," says de Palacia. "For instance, 95 percent of our oil needs will have to be imported. The transport sector in particular is almost entirely dependent on oil."
Global wind power may rise five-fold by 2010, with EU member country Germany a world leader, according to a new study by the German Wind Energy Institute (DEWI).
Researchers from DEWI have predicted wind energy capacity will rise from the current 25,000 megawatts (MW) to 120,000 MW by 2010. A megawatt is roughly enough electricity to power 1,000 typical homes.
Germany has been taking the lead in wind technology. Last year it added 2,659 MW of new turbines, bringing the total wind power generation to 8,750 MW, equivalent to 3.5 percent of Germany’s total power consumption.
Good for Germany, says the European Union, but de Palacio says it would be best for all EU nations to work together. "This ambitious new program will help us to take better coordinated and more coherent action," she said today.
Denmark, Britain and Ireland also have major wind farm projects in the works that will come on line within the new program's timeframe.
Currently, 45 percent of Europe's oil supply comes from the Middle East, while 40 percent of natural gas imports come from Russia. Nuclear power provides 35 percent of Europe's energy.
In its policy paper, the commission said that 94 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities comes from the energy sector. Carbon dioxide is the major greenhouse gas linked to global warming.
The Intelligent Energy for Europe action plan proposes a much higher level of European support for promoting renewable energies under the ALTENER program, and energy saving under the SAVE initiative, while at the same time bringing international action into line with these two priorities.
Community non-technological support activity in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources started in 1991 with the adoption of the SAVE program, followed in 1993 by the adoption of the ALTENER program.
The success of these two programs was noted by all the European Community institutions, and the activities have been continued in the multiannual framework program on actions in the energy sector and related measures, which was adopted in 1998 and expires on December 31 to be replaced by "Intelligent Energy for Europe."
In the near future, the Commission proposes to introduce a new raft of measures on the energy aspects of transport in line with the new guidelines of the common transport policy.
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