Piebalgs: “EU needs ‘quantum leap’ in use of renewable energy”

Europe should lead the new global energy agenda and take a “quantum leap in the production of renewable and low carbon energy”, according to EU energy commissioner Piebalgs. 

In a speech to an audience of Asian ambassadors on 10 May, energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs has given an overview of challenges and perspectives of the EU’s energy policy.

A growing demand-supply gap and the EU’s increasing dependency on imported energy sources are the commissoner’s first concerns. “The world is now consuming two barrels of oil for every new barrel discovered”, Piebalgs said, repeating a well-known campaign  slogan of one of the big oil majors. The need for massive investments (16 trillion dollars is needed for new electricity systems, energy efficiency as well as fuels) and the threat of climate change (“the EU will need to reduce its CO2 emissions by at least 50% over the next decades”) are the two other big challenges.

In his speech, the energy commissioner highlighted the following six responses to these energy challenges:

  • further completion of the internal energy market;
  • prevent supply disruptions through the establishment of a European Energy Supply Observatory, a revision of oil stocks publication and new legislative proposals for gas stocks;
  • transparency on member states’ energy mix, their investments patterns and their impact; the commissioner again expressed his wish to have a transparent and objective debate on the future role of nuclear energy for those countries who would wish it in their energy mix;
  • energy efficiency: the commission is expected to present still this year its Action Plan for Energy Efficiency aiming to reduce by 20% the EU’s energy use by 2020; “energy efficiency needs to become a global priority”, Piebalgs said.
  • more money for energy research and innovation: the commission will put forward a “strategic energy technology plan”;
  • energy should become a key priority in the EU’s external relations policy: the Strategic EU Energy Review should prepare the Union to speak with one voice and improve dialogues with producer, consumer and transit countries; a more effective energy partnership with Russia is needed.

In March 2006, the Commission published a Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy. Stakeholders and citizens are invited to contribute to this consultation until 24 September 2006.

The Finnish EU Presidency (which starts on 1 July) will organise a major debate on energy security during the informal summit of EU leaders on 20 October in Lahti (Finland).

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