EU renewables industry optimistic about 2020 outlook

Nov 19, 2008 01:00 AM

Despite gloomy economic forecasts, manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and other non-fossil fuel technologies say they are ready to deliver more than the block's target of sourcing 20 % of energy needs from renewables by 2020.
"We can deliver between 33 % and 40 % of Europe's electricity needs by 2020, depending on energy-efficiency achievements, a share of 25 % of heat from renewable energy sources and 10 % biofuels by 2020," Arthouros Zervos, president of the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), said on 17 November.

EREC has launched a new "roadmap" that charts how the sector can deliver "much more" than 20 % of the EU's energy needs by 2020, on the condition that member states continue to develop their renewables potential and invest in new technologies. National governments are currently debating a European Commission proposal, presented on 23 January as part of a wider climate and energy package, which sets out differentiated targets for renewable energy uptake for each EUmember state based on its per capita GDP.
With the EU entering into a recession following turmoil in global financial markets, however, there are concerns in some member states that achieving the targets will be too costly, particularly since many renewables still require state subsidies.

But EREC argues that investments in renewables will lead to significant long-term profits, with the potential to create two mm jobs by 2020. Recession does not justify delaying action on climate change but offers an opportunity to address both financial and climate challenges, according to the group.
Meanwhile, the European Environment Agency (EEA) argues that bioenergy could deliver almost half of the renewable energy target for 2020, substantially reducing Europe's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions too. In a report published on 12 November, the EEA claims that bioenergy produced within the EU could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 8 % by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, and by up to 13 % by 2030.

Biomass production might, however, jeopardise the EU's overall environmental goals if appropriate policy and economic incentives are not put in place, the EEA warns. Strong measures must be taken at local and regional level to avoid soil erosion, water pollution and loss of biodiversity, the agency said.
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs is currently visiting Brazil to attend an International Conference on Biofuels and gain first-hand knowledge of the sustainability criteria that Brazilian biofuel producers are applying.

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