Saturday, October 29, 2011

ENERGY for youth

ENERGY for youth

Maximise your power

Energy is the big story in Europe now - and you have a major role to play!

Right now, you're probably thinking, why should I bother? One small light won't change the world. Well, just think...

Girl with calculator

A quick calculation...

One 100W light bulb left on for one hour every day consumes 36,5 kWh of energy per year. There are 75 million teenagers in Europe. If we all switch off one light for one hour each day - that's 36,5 x 75 million = 2738 million kWh of energy saved.

This would prevent 1.37 million tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere - the amount generated by one small power station (150 MWe).

So, you really do have the power to be the hero in our Energy story!

The story doesn't end there

Switching off lights is a good start. But there are many other ways you can help save the planet's energy for the future.

girl points at CFL bulb

CFL light bulbs use one fifth of the energy of traditional bulbs, and last eight times as long. They cost more to buy, but actually save you money because they are so efficient. Encourage your school, your family and your friends to see the light and make the change!

Ditch the duck

Having short showers instead of long baths also helps to save energy and water. The duck may not like it. But every time he takes a dip, he speeds up global warming.

Duck and shower

Switch it off!

6% of energy in Europe is used by electrical equipment left on standby. When the red light shows you are still leaking electricity! So remember to always pull the plug on equipment such as playstations, CD players and computers!

Switch it off!

Use the sun's energy

It's so easy to switch on the heating or tumble drier, we often forget there is a brilliant source of energy in our garden. Always dry your clothes the natural way when possible. On sunny winter days, turn down the thermostat and open the curtains. The sun's energy will come shining in and heat the house for free!

Clothes on line in sun

These are just a few simple example of ways to take Energy Action and help save Europe's reources for your future.

Energy for life

In Europe our way of life still depends on fossil fuels. These were created millions of years ago from the remains of prehistoric forests.

Beneath the ground, time and pressure slowly turned the trees into vast fields of oil, gas and coal. However, the world has already used up half these fuels, and in a few decades they will be gone forever.

So it is vital that Europe develops safe sources of energy that will not run out; energy from the sun, wind, water and plants.

girl with solar panel

Renewable energy is nothing new. For centuries, buildings have been designed to capture the heat of the sun. Wood has been used for heating and cooking. Wind energy was used to mill flour, and to transport goods and people around the world on large sailing ships.


The resources of renewable energy may not have changed, but the technology definitely has. Modern wind turbines have become highly efficent and now generate electricity for thousands of homes in Europe. And they don't produce the carbon emissions that cause global warming.

boy with wind turbines

Solar energy is also becoming increasingly important. Solar panels use photovoltaics made of special types of silicon. These convert sunlight into electricity.

Solar panels on roof

Solar thermal energy is used to provide heat and hot water. The tubes above absorb the sun's heat in a highly efficient way, and pass the heat via pipes to a water tank.

There are many other uses for solar energy. Look at our web links and photo gallery to find out more.

boy with hydro dam

Hydro power is a major source of power in many European countries, particularly Scandinavia. Dams are used to create reservoirs. Water is then accelerated down steep pipes and used to power turbines that generate electricity. Again, this resource is renewable and doesn't cause carbon emissions.

The most diverse form of renewable energy is biomass - energy from biological matter. There are many different sources of biomass, including forestry residues, food wastes, animal wastes and energy crops.

girl with miscanthus

Just like the forces of nature that converted the prehistoric forests to oil, coal and gas, technology can be used to convert biomass to solid, liquid and gaseous fuels.

Wood, straw and energy crops, such as willow and miscanthus, can be combusted in power stations to create electricity and heat.

Manure, agricultural and food wastes can be converted into biogas. This can be used to generate heat and electricity and as a transport fuel.

Biogas train

Scientists are developing new ways to make biofuels from trees, energy plants, waste materials, straw and even algae (tiny green plants that grow in ponds and the sea). It takes time and money, but the fuels of the future could soon be used by lorries, ships and planes for long journeys. For short journeys in cities, smaller electric vehicles may be the best way to travel.

Fight climate change

6 steps to reduce your carbon footprint

Reduce your footprint and change your world >>>

Carbon dioxide is a gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere. As plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide, which is combined with water to create simple sugars. These are then turned into more complex compounds that form the structure of the plant. Energy for this process (photosynthesis) comes from the sun.

carbon cycle

When a plant dies, is burned or is eaten by animals, the carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere. The carbon cycle helps create a stable environment for all living things, including us!

Prehistoric forests absorbed millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As the planet changed, the forests were buried under the ground, with the carbon trapped in the trees.

dinosaur with petrol pump

Over millions of years, heat and pressure turned the trees into oil, coal and gas. In the last hundred years, we have used half of the planet's fossil fuel reserves for energy and transport - rapidly releasing millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

orange sky

There are not enough plants on the planet to absorb all this extra carbon dioxide gas, so it escapes into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide lets sunlight through, but reflects heat back onto the surface of the earth. This is causing the planet's temperature to slowly increase.

dead tree in desert

Global warming may result in rising sea levels, coastal erosion and floods. It may cause drought, leading to water supply problems and crop failure. It may also lead to extreme weather, such as storms and hurricanes, which cause severe damage to buildings, roads and infrastructure (communications, water and electricity supplies).

waves against house

To slow down climate change, all countries in Europe have agreed to reduce energy use to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide they produce. They will also increase use of renewable energy sources.

girl with EU map painted on face

To find out more about climate change and how you can help reduce carbon emissions, visit our transport, web links, photo gallery and video pages.

Go radical - join the transport revolution

In the last century the internal combustion engine transformed the globe. It enabled people to travel faster and further than ever before, by car, by plane, by boat, by train.

But the new found freedom of the 20th Century came at a price. As more and more people travelled more and more miles, sulphur, lead and a host of other toxins were released into the atmosphere. This posioned the environment - damaging plants, animals and people.


However, the biggest problem is carbon dioxide, a gas which is produced when fuels are combusted. Millions of tonnes of this gas are released into the atmosphere every year. The carbon dixoide forms a layer that reflects sunlight back onto the earth, causing climate change.

Scientists vary in their predictions about how bad and how fast global warming will occur. However, there is no doubt that climate change is already affecting everyone in Europe. It causes more extreme weather - storms, floods, droughts - and other environmental problems.

These problems affect crops, animals and water supplies - the fundamental things that we rely on for our survival. To help slow down climate change, we need to change our transport habits now.

Put your best foot forward!

boy with big foot

The best and easiest alternative to the car is your own two feet!

Walk to school. Cycle to the shops. You will get fitter and leaner. You will save money and prevent pollution.

Whether you are pounding the pavement or pushing the pedals, every time you leave the car at home you will help slow down global warming.

Boy on bike

Take the train!

Of course, it's not possible to walk everywhere. What about longer journeys? Well, it is so easy to get in the car, we often forget about the bus and the train. These are often much more convenient, especially if you have to travel through a large city, where the roads are congested and parking is very expensive.

Take the train

Trains and buses are heavier than cars and have bigger engines. So they use more fuel. However, they carry far more passengers, so the amount of carbon dioxide produced per person per km is much lower.

Share your car with a friend

Sometimes, of course, the car is the only option. But, there are still ways to travel more sensibly.

How often have you driven all the way into town right behind a neighbour? Or met someone you know in the car park?

Next time you are travelling to a football match, the cinema, or a school event, check if a friend needs a lift. It's less boring if you have someone to share the journey with you - and your families can save money.

Share your car

Discover better ways to travel in your town

Across Europe, there are many schemes that help to promote public transport. Why not contact your local council or energy agency to discover more?

If you are under eighteen, you will often find that you qualify for much cheaper fares.

Cleaner fuels for a brighter future

The world has currently used up half its supplies of fossil fuels. However, new fuels are being developed. These will help our resources of oil last longer and ensure that we have energy supplies for transport in the future.

Meanwhile manufacturers are producing innovative new cars that offer greater efficiency and cleaner motoring.

Toyota Prius

Many new cars now feature hybrid electric/petrol engines or very economical diesel engines, both of which provide excellent fuel efficiency.

hybrid car engine

The electric engine takes over in city traffic, helping to reduce pollution, and boosts the performance of the petrol engine only when required.

Biofuels - biodiesel and bioethanol - are also being increasingly used in Europe. A new generation of sustainable advanced biofuels is now being developed. These use agricultural and forestry wastes, vegetable wastes, and energy crops that can be grown on land that is not suitable for food production. New technologies may even soon be able to use algae to produce transport fuels.

Some completely electric cars are now available. These have a limited range, but are a good solution in city centres as they produce no emissions*. Hydrogen and fuel cells are another potential transport fuel. Again, lots more information is available on our web links page.

*Energy is needed to produce electricity and hydrogen. Currently this is likely to come from a fossil fuel source. However, renewable resources can also be used to produce hydrogen and electricty. New technology will help to make these fuels of the future.


Energy - let's save it!

An animation by the European Commission.

Better light with less energy

An animation by the European Commission.

Energy action

This animation shows a few ways to help save energy. Switch to low energy light bulbs. They use one fifth of the energy of traditional bulbs. Remember to switch off your TV at the wall. Standby leaks electricity. As you will see, there are also easy ways to save energy with kettles, washing machines and windows.

But first switch off the light...

Climate change

Over millions of years, prehistoric forests grew on the earth. They absorbed carbon dioxide from the air. The trees died and heat and pressure turned them into coal, oil and gas. When we burn these fuels, carbon dioxide is rapidly released. This is changing our climate.

Energy from water

The sun heats water in the sea. The water rises and falls as rain. Dams trap the water in lakes at the top of hills. The water travels fast down long pipes and spins big turbines to make electricity.

Ground source heat pump

Heat in the ground warms tubes full of liquid (similar to car antifreeze). This warmth is used to heat vapour, which is compressed to greatly increase its temperature. The vapour is condensed and the heat is passed to radiators or hot water for washing. Electricity is used, but the efficiency of the system is 220-300 %. So much more heat is generated.

Heat and hot water from the sun

Black tubes are put on roofs. The tubes are full of special liquid (similar to car antifreeze). They trap heat from the sun. The heat is passed into water pipes and can be used for showers or washing clothes.

Electricity from the sun

This animation shows how energy from the sun can be turned into electricity. This is done by special materials called photovoltaics. These are used to make solar panels.

Heat and hot water from trees

Willow trees grow using carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. After 4 years they can be dried and burned to produce heat and hot water for buildings. So you don't have to use oil, coal or gas. Other trees, wood waste and straw can also be used for bioenergy - even in large power stations.

Sustainable Transport

Cars, lorries, buses and planes all use fossil fuels. These produce a gas called carbon dioxide.The gas collects above the earth. It traps heat (like a greenhouse) and makes the planet get hotter. Ride a bike, walk or take a bus. You will reduce greenhouse gases and help slow down global warming.

Wind Energy

This animation shows how wind energy can be used to generate electricity.The wind turns the rotor blades of the turbine. These are connected to gears that make a generator spin at high speed. The generator produces electricty that is sent to houses through pylons.

Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage CCS

For the next few years, power stations will use oil, gas and coal to make energy. But this produces the carbon dioxide gas that causes climate change. One answer is to capture the gas and store it deep underground in porous rock (rock with tiny holes in it). Then the power station only produces water, air and sometimes hydrogen gas. Hydrogen can be used as a fuel in vehicles or future power stations. CCS is a new idea that is being tested.

Advanced biofuels

Scientists are developing new ways to make biofuels from trees, energy plants, waste materials, straw and even algae (tiny green plants that grow in ponds and the sea). It takes time and money, but the fuels of the future could soon be used by lorries, ships and planes for long journeys. For short journeys in cities, smaller electric vehicles may be the best way to travel.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Europe 2020 Green growth and jobs?

The EU's new strategy for sustainable growth and job comes in the midst of the worst economic crisis for decades. It puts innovation and green growth at the heart of its blueprint for competitiveness, but will have to include tighter monitoring if it is to succeed where the Lisbon Agenda failed.


Europe 2020 Green growth and jobs?

The EU's new strategy for sustainable growth and jobs, called 'Europe 2020', comes in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades.

The new strategy replaces the Lisbon Agenda, adopted in 2000, which largely failed to turn the EU into "the world's most dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010" (see EurActiv LinksDossier).

The new agenda puts innovation and green growth at the heart of its blueprint for competitiveness and proposes tighter monitoring of national reform programmes, one of the greatest weaknesses of the Lisbon Strategy.

During a summit on 11 February, EU leaders broadly endorsed a paper by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, which called for more rigorous implementation and monitoring procedures for the new strategy (EurActiv 11/02/10).

The European Commission unveiled the new strategy on 3 March 2010, defining five 'headline targets' that would need to be adapted at national level in order to reflect national differences:

  • Raising the employment rate of the population aged 20-64 from the current 69% to 75%.
  • Raising the investment in R&D to 3% of the EU's GDP.
  • Meeting the EU's climate change and energy objective for 2020 to cut greenhouse gas emission by 20% and source 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources.
  • Reducing the share of early school leavers from the current 15% to under 10% and making sure that at least 40% of youngsters have a degree or diploma.
  • Reducing the number of Europeans living below the poverty line by 25%, lifting 20 million out of poverty from the current 80 million.

After heated discussions, EU heads of state and government signed up to the EU-wide targets at a summit in June 2010 and agreed on their national contribution to the European effort (see full table with targets broken down per country).

Some objectives were watered down during the negotiations. Germany, for instance, disputed the EU's right to set targets on education matters and only dropped its resistance after receiving assurances that it would maintain its national sovereignty on education and training.

Britain, for its part, simply refused to sign up to the education and jobs objectives, arguing that sovereign countries should "set their own level of ambition" when it comes to defining national policies.


An 'economic government' for Europe?

Meeting in February 2010, EU leaders endorsed the thrust of the European Commission's plan, with a number suggesting more attention should be paid to social aspects as unemployment is expected to reach new highs in 2010.

Paris and Berlin took the opportunity to present a united front in responding to the 2020 vision (EurActiv 05/02/10). France has long insisted on turning the euro zone's meeting of finance ministers into an 'economic government' for Europe, a view opposed by Germany due to concerns over the independence of the European Central Bank.

But Greece's debt problems and Europe's sluggish recovery from the economic crisis have given Berlin reason to soften its stance, with Merkel now accepting references to the term "economic governance". For Berlin, greater coordination of national economic policies and reform programmes appears to be acceptable as long as the Stability and Growth Pact is respected.

Herman Van Rompuy, permanent president of the European Council, suggested that EU countries submit their public debt management plans alongside national reform programmes next autumn.

In its 'Europe 2020' proposal, the European Commission took the idea on board, proposing to strengthen economic policy coordination between the 27 EU member states by linking national fiscal stabilisation programmes to expenditure in "growth-friendly" areas such as R&D and education (EurActiv 26/02/10).

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears sceptical, saying that linking the Stability and Growth Pact to the policy priorities of the 'Europe 2020' plan would make fiscal surveillance "unnecessarily political" (EurActiv 02/03/10).

Closer monitoring: Carrots, not sticks

At the February summit, EU leaders also broadly endorsed a paper by Herman Van Rompuy which called for more rigorous implementation and monitoring procedures for the new 'Europe 2020' strategy (EurActiv 11/02/10).

One major criticism of the Lisbon Strategy has been that national governments did not buy in to the process and monitoring was too loose and did not include sanctions for failing member states.

In his invitation letter to heads of state and government, Van Rompuy said the new strategy "requires ownership and commitment at the highest level". "The new strategy needs to become our joint responsibility," he stressed, suggesting that EU summits should become the place for European economic governance.

Germany had a public falling out with Spain over whether to set binding goals for member states to ensure the 2020 agenda is met. Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who holds the Union's rotating presidency, argued in favour of setting hard economic targets for member states, but Germany rejected the idea, fearing it would create unnecessary bureaucracy (EurActiv 12/01/10).

Instead of sanctions, Van Rompuy proposed to reward governments with extra EU funding if they meet their targets under the strategy. This could come from the European Investment Bank (EIB) or the EU's regional and research budgets. However, the European Commission did not include this in its proposal.

'Country surveillance'

A big novelty would come from so-called "country surveillance" schemes that would encompass fiscal stabilisation programmes and growth-friendly expenditure, taking into consideration national constraints on public finances.

"To achieve this, the Europe 2020 and Stability and Growth pact reporting and evaluation will be done simultaneously to bring the means and the aims together," the Commission says in its 'Europe 2020' proposal.

Policy recommendations could be made to member states both under the Stability and Growth Pact – which carries legal weight – and under the thematic parts of national policy programmes.

Legally speaking, these recommendations would take the form of opinions related to the surveillance of member states' public finances, which already exist under the Stability and Growth Pact (Regulation 1466/97).

The new aspect is that if an EU country fails to meet its policy recommendation in the agreed timeframe, the Commission could issue a "policy warning" under Article 121.4 of the EU treaty. This warning, which would need approval by the member states, could be made public in order to give it more political weight.

But it seems Germany is still reluctant to agree to such a close review of national economic policies and other countries like Britain are likely to oppose it too.

Five headline targets

To ensure the member states' commitment to the new strategy, the EU president wants a maximum of five "quantitative targets with a deadline and possible immediate steps" on issues such as R&D spending, labour market participation rates, third-level education and poverty reduction.

The Commission's proposal defines five 'headline targets' to be adapted at national level in order to reflect "differing starting points":

  • Raising the employment rate of the population aged 20-64 from the current 69% to 75%.
  • Raising the investment in R&D to 3% of the EU's GDP.
  • Meeting the EU's 2020 objectives to cut greenhouse gas emission by 20% and source 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources.
  • Reducing the share of early school leavers from the current 15% to under 10% and making sure that at least 40% of youngsters have a degree or diploma.
  • Reducing the number of Europeans living below the poverty line by 25%, lifting 20 million out of poverty from the current 80 million.

Monitoring those targets, the Commission says, "should be an integral part of our economic governance".

A series of seven flagship initiatives were identified where joint action will be initiated: on innovation, youth, the digital agenda, resource efficiency, industrial policy, skills and jobs and the fight against poverty.

Implementation at national level

After heated discussions, EU heads of state and government signed up to the EU-wide targets at a summit in June 2010 and agreed on their national contribution to the European effort (see full table with targets broken down per country).

A one-size-fits-all target was ruled out given the differences between the most and least-developed member states.

Some objectives were watered down during the negotiations. Germany, for instance, disputed the EU's right to set targets on education matters and only dropped its resistance after receiving assurances that it would maintain its national sovereignty on education and training.

Britain, for its part, simply refused to sign up to the education and jobs objectives, arguing that sovereign countries should "set their own level of ambition" when it comes to defining national policies.

A form of peer-review has also been mooted but has not materialised in any significant manner. In any case, reporting – which could be made public – is likely to be more frequent and rigorous than during the Lisbon Agenda process.

Despite scepticism from some, diplomats believe economic realities will give the 2020 strategy major political impetus, which will lend itself to the kind of buy-in from governments that the Lisbon Agenda lacked.


Member states' lack of determination in implementing the Lisbon Agenda frustrated business leaders, who have called for greater commitment to delivering on the objectives. "Many political leaders make European commitments but by the time they cross their own national border they forget about it," said Wim Philippa, secretary-general of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), a powerful lobby group.

"If Europe wants to be competitive in 2020 or in 2025 then that should not happen," he told EurActiv in an interview.

The business group underlined the urgent need to encourage young people to study mathematics, technology and the sciences – even offering to throw its financial weight behind educational initiatives in member states. "We very much support the creation of a European coordinating body for education to promote MST [maths, science and technology], starting in primary school. We are prepared to play our part – financially – in cash and in kind," Philippa said.

John Monks, secretary-general of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), declared himself an 'EU 2020 sceptic' and argued that the new strategy risked being "Lisbon as usual" – a repeat of its poorly-performing predecessor. He feared that the long-termism of this new vision ignores the need for concrete, speedy solutions to the current problems facing Europe. "I think it's a rush to judgement by a new Commission that feels naked without a 10-year strategy," he argued.

The European Policy Centre, a Brussels think-tank, questioned whether the EU had the tools to deliver on its ambitious objectives. "Looking at the targets, it looks like the tools to deliver are mostly at member-state level so it remains to be seen how far member states will match action to aspiration this time around."

The EPC also questioned the wisdom of keeping the Stability and Growth Pact separate from the Europe 2020 policy objectives. "One crucial issue missing from the high-level targets is the sustainability of public finances, with the Stability and Growth Pact kept deliberately separate from Europe 2020. This means that Europe 2020 is not a comprehensive economic reform strategy and also makes it dependent on success in another policy field."

Indeed, it says the 'Europe 2020' policy objectives will largely depend on the public finance situation in the member states. The proposed governance mechanism "is still predominantly soft," says the EPC, relying on benchmarking, monitoring and recommendations.

"Yes, governments can be admonished if they do not take the right actions but is there really a will by member states to do this consistently, applied to all member states equally?" it said.

BusinessEurope, the EU's main employer lobby group, said the Europe 2020 proposal provided "a useful basis" for making Europe "a greater a player in the world". However, it said "the sense of urgency and focus should be reinforced […] in order to turn the Commission communication into a real roadmap for action".

Instead of waiting until 2020, BusinessEurope called for a rigorous mid-term assessment in 2014 which would judge whether the current Commission had done enough. "The Lisbon Strategy failed because the first five-year Commission mandate during that 10-year period did nothing," he claimed.

Former EU Commissioner Mario Monti, who is currently working on an official report aimed at reviving support for the internal market, said if Europe is to have a united position in external affairs it must avoid speaking with "a cacophony of voices" at home. European leaders, he said, have a bad habit of blaming the EU rather than accepting responsibility for joint decisions they have taken in Brussels.

However, Monti said Europe has emerged from the crisis with enhanced prestige as its social market economic model are now taken more seriously and its companies and citizens are not as indebted as those in the US.

The Commission was criticised for allowing a relatively short period for feedback on its consultation paper. A short summary of the 1,500 submissions was published by the EU executive, but social and environmental NGOs reacted angrily to claims by the Commission that they "broadly support" the draft plan (EurActiv 4/2/10). They called for a stronger social dimension to the strategy and said the Commission had presented a "rosy view" of NGOs' feedback.

Speaking on behalf of the Spanish EU Presidency, Miguel Sebastian, Spanish Minister for Industry, said structural reforms are needed in Europe given the challenge of emerging economies in China and India. He also noted that Lisbon is not seen as a "complete failure" by member states and that some moves in the right direction have been prompted by the strategy.

However, he acknowledged that more robust accountability measures will help implement EU 2020 – the successor to the Lisbon Agenda. "Business works towards quantitative measures of progress whereas governments do not always take that approach. I think that's wrong. We should have long-term targets," he said.

Joseph Daul MEP, leader of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the largest group in the European Parliament, said the new 'Europe 2020' should have a stronger governance. "The Lisbon Strategy was not successful due to weak governance structure and lack of accountability of the member states. This should not happen again", Daul said. The EPP stressed the importance of small businesses for the EU economy, saying more effort was needed to cut administrative burdens for SMEs.

The Socialist and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament criticised the European Commission's proposed strategy for "lacking ambition"."The Commission's proposals are not green enough and not strong enough on jobs and social policy and overall too lukewarm," said Stephen Hughes MEP, S&D vice-president for economic and social affairs.

"Despite a welcome commitment to tackling poverty, the Commission has never been whole-hearted about throwing its energy into a strong social policy. It is clear that we have an important task in the coming years to make Europe put people, not markets, first," Hughes added.

In response, the S&D outlined its own priorities for the European economy, putting the emphasis on a "green new deal" that they said should create 10 million jobs in the economy by 2020.The group believes the priorities for the next decade must include the following:

  • A new deal for sustainability.
  • High-quality full employment with decent work and social inclusion for women and men.
  • The fight against poverty, inequality and insecurity.
  • A high-productivity knowledge economy.
  • Social and territorial cohesion.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats group in the European Parliament (ALDE) welcomed the Commission's proposals, saying the proposed objectives are both "ambitious and realistic".

However, it said the strategy needed "more teeth" in order to make sure it is implemented at national level. "The emphasis of Europe 2020 is certainly striking the right chord," said ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt MEP. But he said he was "convinced" that the Commission "must be even more in the driver's seat" and offer sticks as well as carrots.

"The 2020 document offers some carrots but few sticks other than a possible warning from the Commission, which is unlikely to send a shudder down the spines of national finance ministries." "I maintain that the European Commission, not the European Council, is best placed to set the targets, oversee performance and name and shame underperformers because member states will always lack the political will for self-criticism."

Verhofstadt also believes that businesses "need a stable legal and macro-economic framework in which to thrive and invest. A single market and a single currency inevitably require some common approaches to broader macro-economic policy planning."

Referring to the Greek debt crisis, ALDE spokesperson Lena Ek said: "Cheating with statistics is unacceptable and countries that cheat should be punished. It is necessary to establish clear binding targets and make sure that oversight is the Commission's responsibility."

The Swedish MEP proposed creating "a European Monetary Fund" that can help stabilise markets in case of crisis.

The Green group in the European Parliament criticised the Commission proposal as "a myopic attempt" at defining a vision for 2020. "The Commission's rigid attachment to GDP growth as the driving target for economic development is a recipe for repeated failure," said Green MEPs Claude Turmes and Philippe Lamberts.

"GDP growth does not automatically provide improved social equality, better environmental protection or a happier life for citizens. New indicators are needed. We particularly call for a target for better distribution of income in the Europe 2020 programme," they said.

The Greens also criticised the strategy for being weak on national implementation measures. "The Commission is repeating the mistakes of the Lisbon Strategy by presenting a programme without demanding obligations. We need binding targets for critical issues such as resource and energy efficiency, as well as for social objectives."

Turmes, the Greens' vice-president, has been a strong proponent of using the crisis as a unique opportunity to move to a low-carbon economy but notes that the document does little to promote environmental technologies and hardly mentions renewable energies. The proposal, he points out, warns that the EU is in danger of losing its leadership on green technologies to the US and China but does not outline any measures to regain it.

The European Association of Employers and Enterprises in Public Services (CEEP) sees strong, effective public services as vital to a successful Europe 2020 strategy. CEEP secretary-general Ralf Resch said, "you cannot have 'smart, sustainable and inclusive growth' without functioning and high-performing education systems, adequate and efficient energy infrastructures or sustainable healthcare and social services".

Ben Butters, director of European affairs at Eurochambres, an association of more than 1,200 European Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the new 2020 plan should be more robust than the last. "The 2000-2010 Lisbon Strategy was strong on ambition, but weak on action. Today, it is clearer than ever that reform is not an option, it is essential, so the EU 2020 strategy must be built on firmer foundations than its predecessor, based on strong ownership, effective implementation and robust monitoring and coordination."

Butters described the open method of coordination as "heavily flawed," saying it needs to be reinforced and re-branded to ensure implementation. EU 2020 should also be endorsed by all stakeholders from Brussels down to local level, according to Eurochambres, which said an effective communication strategy will play a big role in securing support for the new roadmap.

UEAPME, the European small business organisation, called for the removal of the remaining internal market barriers and further reductions of the administrative burden on businesses. They want policymakers to 'think small first' when designing regulation, access to finance and 'flexicurity'.

UEAPME highlighted the challenges SMEs face and calls for better market access (internal market and third countries' markets), fair competition and a level playing field. Referring to the Small Business Act, it emphasised the importance of implementing policy commitments effectively.

Klaus Klipp, secretary-general of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), said the process should take a "bottom-up approach" involving regional actors in defining and implementing governance structures.

Eucomed, which represents the medical technology sector, wanted to see more incentives for innovation in the strategy. In its submission to the European Commission, the group said it applauds the objectives of the plan but stressed the need for all policies to be consistent with EU 2020.

"It is important that procurement procedures are driven to incentivise innovation and are designed to particularly help SMEs unleash their innovation potential to launch new products on the market. This also applies to reimbursement schemes, which do not always recognise the entire care process and long-term patient outcomes," said John Wilkinson, chief executive of Eucomed.

The European Students' Union welcomed the attention given to education in the draft EU 2020 strategy. "ESU is, however, concerned that the document will fail to capture the essence of the strategy unless specific targets are drafted", said Ligia Deca, ESU chairperson. The ESU wants student mobility, changing skills needs and public investment in higher education to be considered by policymakers charting a long-term course forward for Europe.

The European Youth Forum (YFJ) has criticised the 'Youth on the Move' initiative for excluding young people who are not involved in higher education. Tine Radinja, president of the YFJ, said: "We urge President Barroso to revise and improve the youth dimension of the Europe 2020 Strategy Draft."

"Only about 30% of young people today complete higher education. If the 'Youth on the Move' project wants to make a real change it needs to focus on the young people that have now the least opportunities and are at risk of poverty and it should dare to set an ambitious benchmark for youth participation mobility," she added.

Radinja also believes that Europe 2020 needs to have a clear benchmark for youth employment and wants the European Youth Pact to be included in the guidelines to ensure the integration of youth-related policy in the overall EU strategy.

BEUC, the European consumers' association, supports the proposed EU 2020 objectives, whilst advocating a stronger focus on social inclusion and consumer rights. It also takes the view that more should be done to empower citizens. The single market should be deepened and consumer protection made a cross-cutting priority in the new strategy, it said.

Several national consumer organisations also contributed to the consultation. They share the general views expressed by BEUC on the importance of consumer policy in the new strategy. They equally underline the importance of guaranteeing adequate legal protection.

The Eurosystem, which is the monetary authority of the euro zone, submitted a contribution fully supporting the integration of social and environmental objectives into the EU 2020 strategy, while maintaining its overall focus on growth and jobs.

Particular attention should be given to a well-functioning labour market, internal market policies, competition and innovation, sound financial systems and the strict implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact, it said.

Social and environmental objectives should rely as far as possible on market-based instruments, according to the Eurosystem, which broadly agrees with the governance structures proposed by the Commission.

The European Centre for Development and Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) believes the EU 2020 strategy should include detailed policies on innovation and creativity and in particular on education and training, including vocational education and training. Partnerships between businesses and research bodies should include education and training authorities to help match skills with jobs.

The European Research Council (ERC) underlines the importance of generating knowledge leadership as a basis for innovation, greening the economy, competitiveness and prosperity. It calls for the development of world-class knowledge infrastructures and the retention and repatriation of top scientific talent from the EU and beyond.

Philippe Herzog, founder of the Confrontations Europe think-tank, said the 2020 strategy is too "short-termist". Herzog, a former French MEP for the far-left GUE group in the European Parliament, said the public consultation period was far too short, and the plan fails to take a long-term view of investment.

"Concretely, you don't see any policy prescriptions for restructuring in the next two or three years," he said. What is required is "a complete review of productivity in the EU," outlining which parts of the productive sector should be sustained.

Hans van der Loo, head of European Union Liaison at Royal Dutch Shell, has stressed the importance of improving Europe's competency in mathematics in order to improve competitiveness. He draws a direct link between technical knowledge and economic growth, but notes that interest in maths and sciences tends to decline as countries become more prosperous.

"Education has long been acknowledged as the cornerstone of Europe’s success. With the challenges ahead, it will become even more important in determining the future of Europe’s prosperity and role in the world. Competency in mathematics, science and technology (MST) is becoming more and more fundamental as strategic enabler for a sustainable, innovative and competitive Europe. Yet shortages in these disciplines are already imminent, calling for measures to substantially curbing this downward trend in enrolment in technical studies and restore the health of the European talent pipeline," said van der Loo.

The European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) believes that the digital agenda must be given a central role if Europe 2020's goals are to be achieved. ETNO director Michael Bartholomew said that success will depend greatly on the development of high speed broadband infrastructure and the capacity of the private and public sector to exploit its benefits.

"In order to accelerate private investment in high speed networks, these objectives must be translated into practice by national regulators, under the guidance of the European Commission, by developing a more targeted and proportionate regulatory environment," he added.

European standards organisations (CEN, CENELEC, ETSI) highlight the role standardisation can play to support the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy and in particular the further development of the single market.

WWF, the global conservation organisation, said the Commission's Europe 2020 plans showed "little ambition". "We welcome some of the bolder elements such as resource efficiency, but there isn't sufficient guidance for such a long-term strategy," said the WWF in a statement. "The real regret is that the strategy fails to give any clear direction on some of the biggest policy overhauls coming up in the next few years, including agriculture (Common Agricultural Policy reform), fisheries (Common Fisheries Policy reform) and rural development, which are barely mentioned in the document."

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a network of green NGOs, welcomed the central place in the proposal for promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy, including in the research and industry "flagship initiatives". However, it regretted that there was "nothing new" on climate change and deplored the "very weak reference to the role of biodiversity protection as a basis for a healthy economy".

"Respecting ecological limits by enabling economic activity without depleting natural resources or burdening our planet’s ecosystems, are key to the sustainable creation of jobs and a sustainable economy," the WWF said. "Instead of exploiting nature, we should be making space for it."More info at:


Revenge of the Electric Car

Revenge of the Electric Car

In 2006, as many as 5,000 modern electric cars were destroyed by the major car companies that built them. Today, less than 5 years later, the electric car is back... with a vengeance.

In Revenge of the Electric Car, director Chris Paine takes his film crew behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM, and the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors to find the story of the global resurgence of electric cars. Without using a single drop of foreign oil, this new generation of car is America's future: fast, furious, and cleaner than ever.

With almost every major car maker now jumping to produce new electric models, Revenge follows the race to be the first, the best, and to win the hearts and minds of the public around the world. It's not just the next generation of green cars that's on the line. It's the future of the automobile itself.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

News and Events by CCRES October 26, 2011


October 26, 2011

News and Events

DOE to Invest $60 Million in Concentrating Solar Power Technologies

Photo of a field of reflective panels and a solar tower.

The SunShot Initiative is boosting concentrating solar power, including tower technology like this type which will be used in the Ivanpah solar project in California.
Credit: BrightSource Energy

DOE announced on October 25 its $60 million investment over three years for applied scientific research to advance cutting-edge concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. The effort is part of DOE's SunShot Initiative, a collaborative national effort to reduce the cost of solar energy by 75% by the end of the decade. CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate the sun's heat, which can then be used to produce electricity.

The SunShot Initiative investments in solar energy research will encourage rapid, widespread adoption of solar energy systems across the country, help the U.S. solar power industry overcome technical barriers and reduce costs, boost U.S. competitiveness in the worldwide market for solar technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come. Through this solicitation, DOE seeks to support research into technologies that have the potential to dramatically increase efficiency, lower costs, and deliver more reliable performance than existing commercial and near-commercial CSP systems. DOE expects to fund approximately 20 to 22 projects, and encourages industry, universities, and its national laboratories to apply. Pre-applications are due by November 22, and full applications are due by February 7, 2012.

This SunShot CSP opportunity seeks to develop innovative concepts that could lead to performance breakthroughs like improving efficiency and temperature ranges, while demonstrating new approaches in the design of collectors, receivers, and power-cycle equipment used in CSP systems. Each of these subsystems is critical to CSP operation: the collectors collect and concentrate the sun's energy onto the receiver; the receiver accepts and transfers the heat energy to the power cycle; and the power cycle converts the heat energy into electricity. Developing low-cost collectors, high-temperature receivers, and high-efficiency power cycles should lead to subsequent system integration, engineering scale-up, and eventual commercial production for clean electricity generation applications. See the DOE press release, the Funding Opportunity announcement, and the SunShot Initiative website.

DOE Issues Report on Financing Solar Photovoltaic Systems for Schools

DOE released on October 20 a report detailing best practices for financing and installing photovoltaic systems on school buildings. The report is titled "Solar Schools Assessment and Implementation Project: Financing Options for Solar Installations on K-12 Schools." Produced under the SunShot initiative, the report supports the ongoing development of Solar Master Plans for three California public school districts—Oakland, Berkeley, and West Contra Costa Unified School Districts.

The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to reduce the cost of solar energy by 75%, making it cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. The new study supports DOE's SunShot Initiative goal of addressing critical barriers, such as the availability of financing, to accelerate the integration of solar energy technologies across the United States. Installing solar energy systems on public schools can help school districts save money on their utility bills, reduce carbon emissions, support job creation, and provide students with opportunities to learn about clean energy.

The newly released report examines the two primary types of ownership models used to obtain solar installations: the direct-ownership option, where the school district finances the project through debt financing, and the third-party finance model, which typically involves a third party that owns, operates, and maintains the system and is paid by the school system for the solar power generated. The third-party finance model also includes Energy Saving Performance Contracts, in which the savings from energy efficiency improvements in the schools can help to pay for the solar installation. This analysis can help school administrators across the country select the best option for deploying solar technologies in their school districts. See the DOE Progress Alert, the complete reportPDF, and the SunShot Initiative website.

Japanese Team Repeats as Winner of the World Solar Challenge

Japan's Team Tokai won the 2011 Veolia World Solar Challenge, a 1,877-mile solar-powered car race across the Australian Outback, on October 20. Their car, Tokai Challenger2, covered the course from Darwin to Adelaide with an average speed of about 57 miles per hour. Repeating the results of the 2009 event, the Nuon team from the Netherlands took second, and the University of Michigan came in third. The largest field in the history of the event, 42 teams from 21 countries, started the biennial competition on October 16.

Photo of sleek car, covered with solar panels, being driven on a road.

The University of Michigan's entry into the World Solar Challenge finished third in the race across the Australian Outback.
Credit: University of Michigan

The race was first run in 1987, and it was repeated every three years until 1999, when organizers switched it to every other year. It is based on energy management and the concept that a 1,000-watt car can complete the race in 50 hours. The solar vehicles are allowed five kilowatt-hours of stored energy. All other energy must come from the sun or be recovered from a car's kinetic energy. See the Solar Challenge press releasePDF and the World Solar Challenge website.

Clean Energy Project Investments Mark Strong Quarter: Report

Global wind farms and solar installations led utility-scale renewable energy projects to a strong investment total of $41.8 billion in the third quarter of 2011, according to research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The United States saw big investments for photovoltaic, solar thermal, and biofuel projects.

Overall, new investment in clean energy grew 9% over the previous quarter, including asset finance, equity raisings on public markets, and investments from venture capital and private equity funds. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the record quarter for financial new investment remains the fourth quarter of 2010, which tallied $51.5 billion.

Analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, based on contract data, shows that the average price of photovoltaic modules has fallen by a third since autumn 2010 and by 70% since the middle of 2008, while wind turbine prices have fallen by 20% since 2009. These moves have made renewable energy technologies more cost-competitive with fossil-fuel power sources. See the Bloomberg New Energy Finance press release.

The How's and Why's of Replacing the Whole Barrel

For many, a barrel of oil is almost synonymous with its most prominent product, gasoline. While almost 40% of a barrel of oil is used to produce gasoline, the rest is used to produce a host of products, including jet fuel and plastics and many industrial chemicals. As the United States works to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, we must recognize the complexity of that dependence and work to replace the whole barrel. Over the summer, DOE's Biomass Program hosted its fourth annual conference, Biomass 2011, on exactly this theme: Replace the Whole Barrel, Supply the Whole Market—the New Horizons of Bioenergy.

More than 600 speakers, exhibitors, industry leaders, researchers, decision makers, and attendees came to hear about the most current technology innovations and business developments in the field of bioenergy. This theme highlighted the primary strategy of the Biomass Program, which concentrates on research, development, demonstration, and deployment of a range of technologies to replace the entire barrel of petroleum crude and supply all segments of the national market for fuels, products, and power generation.

During his opening keynote presentation at Biomass 2011, Secretary Steven Chu remarked, "When oil prices rise, markets tend to panic; when oil prices stabilize, markets tend to hit the 'snooze button.' Oil prices will continue to increase and biofuels can help alleviate this disruptive effect." See the Energy Blog post.

Partnering with National Labs Brings Cutting-Edge Technology to Market

In 2008, Innovalight, a solar start-up from Sunnyvale, California, and DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientists teamed up to answer a game-changing question for potential investors: does Innovalight's Silicon Ink actually work?

The findings: Silicon Ink delivered a low-cost, 7% increase in power output for a typical 15%-efficient solar cell.

Some background: Most of the billions of solar cells made each year rely on distributing exact concentrations of dopants (impurities) throughout the cells to create electric fields. As a liquid, Silicon Ink has the unique ability to suspend silicon nanoparticles evenly in a solution, but Innovalight needed to prove that Silicon Ink could deliver dopant concentrations to the right locations without spreading everywhere or overflowing.

"They needed to prove this to their investors to show that their company was the best at doing this," NREL scientist Kirstin Alberi explained. "They didn't know how to go about proving this, and that’s where we were able to help." See the Energy Blog post.

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EU energy policies

EU energy policies

The EU is putting in place an ambitious energy policy in a bid to improve security of supplies and achieve bold CO2 reduction targets. But how does the EU decision-making process function on energy-related issues? And what is the role of the industry sector and interest groups?

Europe, like many other parts of the world, finds itself under pressure to address major challenges including climate change, a growing dependence on energy imports, increasing strain on energy resources and the need to ensure access for all consumers to affordable and secure energy.

To achieve these goals, the EU is putting in place a wide-ranging energy policy, covering the full array of energy sources from fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) to nuclear energy and renewables (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro-electric and tidal).

The bloc's aim is to put in place a low-carbon economy, whilst making energy resources more sustainable and more secure, and ensuring low prices for consumers.

The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, gives energy policy a new legal basis which it lacked in the previous treaties (Article 194 of the Lisbon Treaty).

In particular, the new legislative framework provides that the Union must ensure security of energy supply in the 27-member bloc, promote the interconnection of energy networks and improve energy efficiency and energy saving.

EU energy policy is supported by market-based tools (mainly taxes, subsidies and the CO2 emissions trading scheme), by developing energy technologies (especially technologies for energy efficiency and renewable or low-carbon energy) and by Community financial instruments.


The market

Huge amounts of money, both private and public, are poured into EU energy policies. Two hundred billion euros is needed to upgrade Europe's gas and electricity grids over the coming decade, according to the European Commission's latest assessment.

Overall, the Commission's energy strategy for the coming decade calls for investment of around €1 trillion to secure the bloc's energy needs in a sustainable manner.

Most of this investment is private. The EU budget allocates only around €250 million a year to energy infrastructure (under the trans-European networks for energy, or TEN-E, programme).

To achieve the EU's climate goals, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger recently called for capital investments in renewable energies to be doubled from €35 billion to €70 billion.

The EU now has a dedicated climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, with whom Oettinger works closely.

Oettinger and his team in the EU's directorate-general for energy will have their hands full to make sure that EU countries implement the Third Energy Package, adopted in 2009, by a 2011 deadline.

With the latest attempt to break up large, vertically-integrated energy companies in France, Germany and other EU countries ending in a truce, the Third Energy Package aims to boost competitiveness but allows gas companies to keep their pipelines, provided that they run them as truly separate entities.

The players

Individual countries and groups of countries, political parties, business and interest groups are all very active in trying to influence the EU's energy policies.

The role of countries is highly visible in the shaping of cross-border infrastructure projects. One recent example was the 4 February 2011 EU summit, on the eve of which several prime ministers gathered to mark agreement on the North-South Gas Corridor, a project aimed at removing internal bottlenecks in gas transport.

At the same summit, France and the Czech Republic set their stalls out by launching a common position on the need to develop nuclear energy.

On other occasions, countries have teamed up to counter or to stay away from proposed transnational projects. This was the case with the Nord Stream pipeline, which now takes a route that avoids the territorial waters of Sweden, Poland and the Baltic states.

Large energy companies often team up in consortia to maximise their chances of success with large infrastructure projects. A consortium is behind the Nabucco pipeline project, and other consortia are behind its competitors, such as ITGI and TAP. A consortium is expected to take the lead on the Desertec project, which aims to develop solar energy in the Sahara Desert.

EU heads of state and government meet regularly at summits called European Councils. European Council conclusions often focus on energy issues. The 4 February 2011 EU summit was dedicated to energy and innovation and its conclusions focused on the full spectrum of energy-related issues, from investment in renewables to facilitating the development of strategic corridors for transporting gas, such as the Southern Corridor.

In the European Parliament, one possible way to measure interest in energy-related proposals is the growing number of amendments to new EU legislation adopted by co-decision procedure. Recently one such regulation, concerning measures to safeguard security of gas supplies, triggered several hundred amendments filling over 300 pages of text.

Another way to measure the drive by stakeholders to influence decision-making is their participation in public consultations in the field of energy. Twenty-four such consultations have taken place since the beginning of 2008 on issues ranging from the energy labelling of tyres to the external dimension of the EU's energy policy.

The European Commission is working in close cooperation with bodies specialising in energy, such as the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO) for electricity, the ENTSO for gas, the Gas Coordination Group and the Oil Supply Group.

Environmental groups play an important role on energy-related issues too. They are consulted by the EU institutions as stakeholders on the same level as the business community.

Recently, the EU asked regulators to draw up a European infrastructure priority plan. And it is establishing a new 'agency for the co-operation of energy regulators' (ACER) in Slovenia.

Often the drive by environmental groups to place policy emphasis on climate protection is countered by business, which often objects that taking into account environmental considerations whatever the cost makes no sense.

Consumer organisations are also an important player in energy-related decision-making. A European Commission study recently found that EU consumers could save around €13 billion or €100 per household each year if they were to shop around for energy prices and switch to the cheapest tariff available to them.

Countries, businesses and federations also lobby the EU institutions by different means, ranging from simple correspondence to public events, conferences, dinners, debates and advertising campaigns.

The Commission often hosts conferences, special weeks and other public events dedicated to a wide variety of energy-related issues. The EU executive also produces Green Papers, which are discussion documents intended to stimulate debate and launch a process of consultation, at European level, on a particular topic, such as climate- and energy-related issues. A Commission White Paper usually follows a Green Paper and contains proposals for EU action in the respective area.

Similarly, the European Parliament organises debates and public events, and commissions surveys on climate- and energy-related issues.

The European Parliament's ITER committee (industry, research and energy) publishes working documents and reports which become the basis of proposals, and amends draft Commission legislation which de facto becomes a legislative proposal.

Learning from crises

Learning from past mistakes has been a powerful driver of decision-making. The January 2009 gas crisis served as a catalyst for improving the Commission's oversight of the sector. It led to the introduction of an EU coordination role in the event of disruption and investment in gas interconnectors (€1.440bn of unspent funds from the EU budget were reallocated to 16 such projects).

However, energy experts and the business community still disagree as to whether public money is needed to build interconnectors, and if so, how much.

The gas crisis has also been a driver for developing storage capacity and pushing forward the construction of alternative pipelines, such as the Southern Gas Corridor.

The EU also learned lessons from the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Urged to act by environmental groups, the Commission tabled on 13 October 2010 draft legislation on oil platforms aimed at ensuring the highest safety standards in the world. In its communication on the safety of oil and gas activities, the Commission contemplates introducing new EU standards, including criteria for granting drilling permits, rig inspections and safety control mechanisms.

Flying the flag

In situations where businesses need the help of the EU flag, the Union's institutions have been increasingly active. One good example of this is a recent visit by Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

Although the document signed by Barroso with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev was not conclusive regarding the Southern Gas Corridor, the political impetus greatly helps the decision-making process on allocating 10 billion cubic metres of Azeri gas to European clients.

External dimension

If it is to achieve its goal of securing competitive, sustainable and secure energy the EU must get involved and cooperate with other countries, be they producer, transit or consumer nations. For the sake of efficiency and consistency, the EU and its members must speak with one voice on international energy issues.

Former European Commission President Jacques Delors, who is often referred to as one of the 'fathers of Europe', advocates that the EU countries that so wish should begin without delay to embark on a common energy policy.

In a policy paper published by Notre Europe, a think-tank founded by Delors himself, he spells out the priorities for countries that wish to move forward as follows:

  • Developing ambitious economic instruments to finance common research and development projects on alternative energies;
  • deepening and structuring cooperation in Europe-wide energy networks, and;
  • setting up oil and gas purchasing groups to facilitate procurement from foreign suppliers, thereby strengthening and focusing EU foreign policy in this field.

Although these steps may appear technical and limited in scope, they will lead to decisive changes, paving the way for greater cooperation and solidarity in the energy field, Delors writes.

Delors' ideas are widely shared by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek. To some extent, Commission President José Manuel Barroso has expressed similar views. On a number of occasions, he has likened EU policies to address climate change and improve energy security to the Coal and Steel Community, which paved the way for European reconciliation after the Second World War.

Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger recently said that the Energy 2020 strategy is just a first step.

"In order to transform our energy systems, we need a longer-term perspective. Under the so-called 'Energy Roadmap 2050', I want to present different paths to meet not only our greenhouse emission reduction target (80-95% compared to 1990) but also secure the provision of energy at competitive prices. Based on different scenarios, it will aim at presenting the policy measures needed in the coming years to firmly set the energy sector on the right track," he said.


A recent research paper entitled 'EU energy policy under the Treaty of Lisbon rules' argued that amidst the institutional dust settling in 2010, certain trends became apparent in EU energy policy.

According to its author, Jan Frederik Braun from the University of Osnabrueck, these trends apply to the energy policymaking process as well as to the wider area of shared competences between the Union and its member states.

The author argues that these trends include:

  • The revised role division/authorities;
  • the increasing importance of confidence building and personal relations within and between the institutions; and
  • the differing perceptions/interpretations within the institutions of the post-Lisbon political landscape.

Besides being a dedicated title in the Treaty, energy constitutes a horizontal policy issue, Braun writes. In his view, the EU's energy policy is a component of other policy areas, such as:

  • Foreign policy (e.g. linked to technological innovation and developing long-term relationships with supply and transit countries through a 'package approach');
  • environment/climate change (e.g. a key element in reducing CO2 and stimulating investments in renewables); and;
  • competition (e.g. access to affordable energy resources for ensuring the international competitiveness of European industries). Click here for more.

To ensure that no third country can engage in targeted reductions of energy supplies, the European Union must present a single interface in its relations with its external partners, both producer and transit countries, a recent study initiated by former Commission President Jacques Delors argues.

According to the policy proposal, called 'Towards a European Energy Community', its authors insist that efforts to build a coherent and effective common policy must get under way now.

According to them, this can be done by developing some elements of the policy without delay, preferably within the framework of enhanced cooperation as defined by article 20 TEU.

Some of the priority actions would be, for those states wishing to go forward:

  • Developing ambitious economic instruments to finance common research and development projects on alternative energies;
  • deepening and structuring cooperation in Europe-wide energy networks, and;
  • setting up oil and gas purchasing groups to facilitate procurement from foreign suppliers, thereby strengthening and focusing the EU's foreign policy in this field.

Although these steps may appear somewhat technical and limited in scope, they will lead to decisive changes, paving the way for greater cooperation and solidarity in the energy field, the policy paper says. Click here for more.


  • 13 July 2009: Adoption of regulation of European Parliament and Council establishing programme to aid economic recovery by granting Community financial assistance to projects in field of energy.
  • 24 June 2010: Council adopts regulation concerning notification to Commission of investment projects in energy infrastructure within EU.
  • 13 Oct. 2010: Commission adopted 'Offshore and gas platform standards'.
  • 10 Nov. 2010: Energy 2020: Commission adopts a 'Strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy'.
  • 17 Nov. 2010: Commission adopts 'Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond'.
  • March 2011: Commission presents energy efficiency action plan.
  • June 2011: Commission tables draft regulation on devising an infrastructure instrument.
  • June 2011: Future of Southern Gas Corridor decided.
  • Sept. 2011: Commission presents comprehensive set of proposals on external dimension of energy policy.
  • Nov. 2011: Commission unveils 2050 energy roadmap.

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