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Fabrizio Barbaso 03/11/2013 BRUSSELS – Today, energy security is more complex than ever before. Europe imports more than a half (54% in 2010) of its energy. It is very vulnerable to the global security situation. At the heart of European energy policy is the EU Energy 2020 strategy. This requires the EU to reduce its GHG emissions by 20% by 2020, compared to 1990; to increase the share of renewable energy sources in our energy use to 20% – almost double what it is now (currently 13% of its final energy consumption comes from renewables); and to increase energy efficiency by one fifth, over the same period. The 2020 agenda has been a broad success. Member States, local authorities and individuals have embraced it. Renewable energy has boomed, even at a period of economic slowdown, renewable energy investment is growing and the majority of new power plants in the EU are now renewables based. Energy Efficiency has taken a major step forward. More and more domestic items are subject to energy design and labelling requirements. The new Energy Efficiency Directive makes new obligations for local authorities, builders and energy suppliers to improve the use of energy both in homes and businesses. The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan has helped technology development. Offshore wind, fuel cells, second generation biomass, solar and PV, geothermal, smart grids, Carbon dioxide capture and storage – these are just some of technologies given priority in EU initiatives and funding. The challenge is to keep this up, despite the economic and financial crises. On renewables, we are working hard to push the network links to integrate new renewable resources into existing grids. We have also to prevent subsidy schemes from overcompensation at a high cost by society. On energy efficiency, which traditionally gets less attention, we will have to take care that new economic growth does not lead to a rise in energy use. On greenhouse gas emissions, there are additional difficulties as low coal prices and low carbon prices are making the task of reducing emissions more challenging. But the target of 2020 will be reached. The EU has already achieved GHG reduction by more than 18% below 1990 levels. Even so, the low-carbon, or “green”, economy will not be complete by 2020. Nor even by 2030. It will take us at least another three decades. That is the lesson of our 2050 Energy Roadmap. This Roadmap, which is based on a number of different scenarios, tells us that a low-carbon energy economy is possible. It is necessary. It is affordable, but it will take time and effort. And we need to get the rest of the world onto the same path. After all, Europe now accounts for only around one eighth of global emissions, and our share is diminishing. Low carbon investors are now waiting for the EU to agree the political direction for post-2020, leading up to 2030. Looking ahead, what are the trends in European energy policy? First, as I have already mentioned, market integration and reform are gaining in urgency, as we seek to complete the internal energy market for energy. Second, there is more and more EU collaboration in energy infrastructure. The European Recovery Programme for Energy was able to rescue a number of projects which were threatened by the economic crisis. The Hungary Croatia gas interconnector was just one which is now completed, thanks to EU support. The Austria – Hungary power interconnector will also help this region. The Commission’s new list of Projects of Common Interest will help us focus our efforts on specific projects which will help security of supply, sustainability and the integration of all parts of the European market. New money will be available under the Connecting Europe Facility. The Commission has adopted just a few days ago a list of priority projects for the EU and the Ministerial Council tomorrow will do the same for the Energy Community. Third, our external energy policy is becoming stronger and more cohesive. We have seen the EU taking a lead in negotiating with Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over access to gas reserves. And this summer we had an important step forward on our proposal for a Southern Corridor to link that region with Southern Europe with the agreement on the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which should also play an important role as a key part of South-East Europe’s “Gas Ring”. Continue reading →
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