The 27 European Heads of State met in Brussels today for their first-ever summit on energy. What was the result? They reiterated the need for an internal market in electricity, for new infrastructure and for cutting greenhouse gases by 80-95% by 2050. That’s positive – they have at least not gone back on what they previously committed to. But there seem to be no new initiatives to achieve these old commitments. They acknowledge the need for long-term strategic thinking, but have so far not come up with any visionary ideas for the period beyond 2020.
None of the conclusions from Friday’s meeting goes beyond what the Heads of State have already agreed over the past two years for the period up to 2020. For the energy sector, 2020 is just around the corner and Europe’s leaders must address the long-term challenges arising from the dual crisis of climate change and rising global competition for scarce, increasingly expensive and depleting fossil fuels.
On Friday 4 February, European Heads of State will gather in Brussels for a European Union summit on energy. It’s the first time they have held a summit on energy and it shows how important energy policy has now become. You can say that with this summit energy has finally reached top of the political agenda.
It is symbolic of EU’s energy problems that tomorrow’s EU energy summit may be overshadowed – at least in the media – by EU leaders discussing the crisis in Egypt.
The instability in Egypt has caused a surge in oil prices, past the $100 per barrel mark, due to fears about disruptions in oil flows through the Suez canal. What better reason could there be to focus on switching to domestically produced renewable energy such as wind and solar? What better reason to decide now to work towards 100% renewable energy by 2050 and agree concrete intermediate goals on how to get there?
Despite some divergence over the details, speakers at yesterday’s public debate organised by EWEA all agreed on the urgency of creating a single energy market in Europe. The benefits – such as cheaper power for consumers, energy security and more clean renewable power – were emphasised by panellists and the 100 attendees. However questions such as whether the European Commission is doing enough, if national energy policies need to change and what should be done about grid infrastructure.
The debate took place just before the EU’s heads of state meet on 4 February in Brussels to talk about energy. At the same time, EWEA launched a declaration supported by businesses and associations calling on the heads of states to act to ensure the single energy market is in place by 2015.
For wind energy aficionados, one of the most interesting stories to make its way across the internet last week involved an academic study claiming that the installation of 3.8 million 5 MW wind turbines could generate half the world’s power needs by 2030.
Published in the respected journal Energy Policy, and entitled ‘Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power,’ the study noted climate change, pollution, and energy insecurity are among the greatest problems of our time.
“Addressing them requires major changes in our energy infrastructure,” said the two California academics, Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi. “Here, we analyse the feasibility of providing worldwide energy for all purposes (electric power, transportation, heating/cooling, etc.) from wind, water, and sunlight (WWS).”