EU announces key policy priorities

Nov 13, 2008 01:00 AM

Developing infrastructure, improving oil and gas crisis response mechanisms and making more effort to save energy are among the key policy priorities in the European Commission's second strategic European energy review. Other priorities include developing external energy relations and making the best use of the EU's indigenous energy resources.
Detailed proposals are set out in the energy security and energy efficiency packages that accompany the review.

The EC said its top priority remained agreeing and implementing its January 2008 package of climate protection policies, including 2020 targets to increase renewable energy use and cut greenhouse gas emissions. These were first set out in its January 2007 strategic European energy review.
But the next priority is "to address the growing precariousness of Europe's energy supply security," it said, with both supply- and demand-side measures.

Supply-side measures
On the supply side, the energy security package includes:
--a proposal to revise the EU's oil stocks laws -- including a plan to publish weekly EU aggregated commercial oil stock levels -- to be followed in 2010 by a discussion paper on refining capacity and EU oil demand;
-- a discussion paper on EU gas supply security, to be followed next year by a proposal to revise the 2004 EU gas supply security law to include changes to the EU gas crisis response mechanism;
-- an update of the EC's January 2007 review of the EU's nuclear sector, known as PINC, showing the key role nuclear could play in the EU's transition to a low-carbon economy, plus plans to make a revised proposal for an EU nuclear safety law by the end of this year;
-- plans to set up an EU energy fund by December 2008 with the European Investment Bank and other financial institutions to mobilize private funds for energy efficiency, renewables, clean fossil fuel use and combined heat and power, plus a discussion paper on financing low carbon technologies in early 2009;
-- a discussion paper on changing the aims of the EU's trans-European energy networks policy, to be followed in 2010 by a proposal for new EU rules to focus efforts on completing the EU's internal energy market, integrating large-scale renewable power into the EU grid, and guaranteeing EU energy security;
-- plans for the EC to propose in 2009 new rules to force EU governments to be more transparent about their international energy relations, plus possibly changes to the EU rules that oblige EU governments to notify the EC of investments in energy projects with EU-level impacts; and
-- a discussion paper on how to develop and integrate large-scale offshore wind power, to be followed in 2009 by a blueprint for a North Sea offshore power grid, and more generally in 2010 by a discussion paper on overcoming barriers to renewable energy in the EU.

As well as the North Sea offshore grid, the EC identifies five other strategic infrastructure developments as essential to EU energy security, namely:
-- the Baltic interconnection plan, to connect the gas and power grids of the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to the rest of the EU;
-- the Mediterranean energy ring, to link up the power and gas grids of the North African Mediterranean countries with those in southern Europe and take advantage of the huge renewables potential in the region;
-- more north-south gas and power links in central and southeast Europe;
-- diverse and adequate LNG supplies; and
-- the southern gas corridor, to access gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East.

The EC said it would present ideas during 2009 and 2010 on how to ensure the success of these developments, as well as a progress report in 2010 on the trans-Saharan gas pipeline project, which would give the EU access to piped Nigerian gas.

Demand side measures
On the demand side, the energy efficiency package includes:
-- a proposal to broaden the scope of the EU energy performance in buildings law to include all major renovations;
--a proposal to broaden the scope of the EU energy labelling law to apply it to a wider range of energy-related products such as windows and insulation materials;
-- a proposal to introduce a label for car tires to promote fuel efficiency and reduce noise;
-- a discussion paper on developing combined heat and power generation, as well as the binding detailed technical guidelines that will make it finally possible for EU governments to fully transpose the 2004 EU law promoting highly efficient CHP;
-- an analysis of the EU's general progress on improving energy efficiency, plus plans to review the 2006 EU energy efficiency action plan and prepare "a more focused and more ambitious" one in 2009.

The EC is calling on EU governments and the European Parliament to support its proposals.
The next strategic European energy review is due in 2010, when the EC says it plans to set out a policy agenda to 2030 and a low-carbon energy vision for 2050, supported by a new action plan.

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