Europe can be role model for renewable energy at United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris 2015

» By | Published 06 May 2014 |

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By Thomas Becker

The economic and political winds of change for Europe’s energy security are in full flow.

With Ukraine on the brink of civil war and an IPCC report calling on the world’s governments to invest in renewables immediately, Europe’s policymakers face a dilemma that cannot be solved with words alone.

Add to that a Heads of State summit in March that failed to deliver a complete verdict on 2030 climate and energy targets and this paints a picture of uncertainty in Europe, particularly in the short term.

One thing is clear however: investment in renewables is essential and ultimately inevitable.

Part of the answer to Europe’s energy independence, of how to spur economic growth, create jobs and protect the climate lies in the wind industry; But to achieve this, policymakers must set aside differences in favor of the common good for the region.

Investments in wind and other renewables will not wait and as the IPCC clearly laid out in its climate change mitigation report earlier this month; the longer we delay, the higher the financial and social cost to the taxpayer.

The wind industry, particularly onshore, offers proven and affordable technology to power business and consumers with renewable energy.

While the cheapest and least precarious route to dealing with global warming is to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, starting immediately with cuts to their subsidies over the coming decades.

The IPCC report stresses that removing the subsidy safety net for high polluting energies such as oil and coal could result in a 13% decline in global emissions by mid-century.

Subsidies for fossil fuels amount to $1.9 trillion a year, according to the International Monetary Fund; surely this is money that could be used to develop and support growing technologies with massive potential like offshore wind.

Now, Europe has an opportunity to take the lead and can be a global role model for renewable energy at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris next year.

But first the European Commission must lay the groundwork for a transition away from fossil fuels by setting a nationally binding renewables target of at least 30% by 2030.

Such a target would create 570,000 more jobs at a time when many Europeans are out of work; it would slash gas imports by 26%, and avoid €260bn in fuel costs

And then there is the question of security; a vital one in the current political climate.

Critics love to paint wind energy as an expensive and unreliable technology but the real price comes from relying on Russian oligarchs and Arab sheikhs to keep our lights on at night.

Already, each European sends €2 a day to tycoons in Russia and the Middle East. Instead, why not let us invest in wind and other renewables – European energy sources which do not have to be imported, which will not run out, and in industries where Europe is a leading player.

The wind is not subject to Mr. Putin’s mood swings or instability in some of the world’s most volatile regions.

Today, renewables make up over 20% of EU electricity generation and can do far more.

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Wind energy will help Europe’s economy set sail again

» By | Published 06 May 2013 |

The 1 May celebrations in Europe last week were tainted by historically high unemployment levels, a miserable macroeconomic outlook and a battered climate and energy policy. The challenges facing Europe’s economy are many. But it is beyond doubt that a thorough modernisation of our energy supply remains an important part of the solution.

Every single day the EU spends almost a billion Euros in oil imports. This is far from being the best way for Europe to strengthen its competitiveness, public finances, employment and security of supply. At the same time, an outdated and poorly connected electricity grid continues to impose unnecessarily high energy prices on businesses and consumers.

In many Member States the economic crisis has led “cheap energy” to become a mantra for business and policy makers. I couldn’t agree more. Accordingly, it is all the more important that the setting of energy prices is based on fair and transparent accounting methods. Therefore the cost of pollution should, obviously, be included as should the hidden subsidies from which both fossil fuels and nuclear energy benefit so hugely.

We must keep in mind that what is cheap energy today will not necessarily remain cheap tomorrow. In the past, we have time and again underestimated the development of the oil price. Given that the European continent possesses no significant fossil energy reserves, and is already importing more than half its energy, it would be a high-risk game, both from an economic and from a security policy point of view, to base our long-term energy strategy on what is cheap here and now.

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EWEA CEO: BusinessEurope “on another planet” on energy policy

» By | Published 03 May 2013 |
Thomas Becker, EWEA CEO.

Thomas Becker, EWEA CEO.

Commenting on the call from BusinessEurope Director General Markus J Beyrer on EU energy policy, European Wind Energy Association CEO Thomas Becker had this to say;

It sounds a little old fashioned when BusinessEurope claims that fighting climate change is not compatible with cost-competitiveness and security of supply. What have they been doing for the last 15 years? What planet were they on?

The main problem of the energy situation today in Europe is the massive subsidies – still in 2013 – going to fossil fuels and nuclear.

If that was corrected and with a properly functioning electricity market there would be no discussion of what choice policy makers would make for the energy mix.

But even without such a correction, wind energy is already cheaper than nuclear, and in an increasing number of locations already cost competitive with new gas and coal.

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