March 28th, 2007

Europe’s renewables target

Just looking at the text of the EU Council Presidency Conclusions from 9 March. The bit about renewables is to the left with some scrawl from me. I’ve already argued that this is a mad way to do policy [Renewables – why is the EU involved?] – it would be more sensible just to set the carbon targets and rigorously enforce those, letting each country decide how to meet its target.

Of course, the real problem now is divvying up the overall 20% target between member states – so-called burden sharing. And I predict chaos! The Council has hinted here at how it will decide – based on existing renewables share and sneakily introducing consideration of nuclear and carbon capture and storage – one assumes giving those member states that have gone down those roads a lower share of the renewables target. But just imagine the problems… the chart below from EU ObservER and its report: State of renewable energies in Europe, 2006 shows the 2005 share of renewable in primary energy (the 2020 target for this now being 20% for the EU as a whole) – click graph to expand.

As we aspire to more than triple renewables share of primary energy (from 6.3% in 2005 to 20% in 2020) and keep up with growth (oh, despite the 20% energy efficiency improvement), can anyone figure out how to do the sharing? Take into account nuclear share, CCS share, existing renewables share (a 100 fold range) – but watch out for countries with big shares based on large hydro because that is limited by available sites, and if nuclear and CCS are a factor, then why not CHP and energy efficiency? And what if there is less incineration, but more recycling, recovery and reuse?

Probably the best comment on this has come from Peter Sutherland, Chairman of BP, interviewed by the Financial Times [article]:

What we don’t want to see is the agreement at the council turning into Lisbon agenda mark two in terms of massive aspiration and failed delivery,” the BP chairman told the Financial Times in an interview, referring to a 2000 summit that resolved to make the EU the world’s most dynamic economy by 2010.

Politicians are always quite happy to give promises that affect successors.” Britain’s Tony Blair and France’s Jacques Chirac were crucial to getting a climate change deal but both would be leaving office in months.

Sorry to be so cynical – but I think this sort of EU posturing invites it.

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