Policies in Europe

The situation of energy supply in Europe is highly dependent on the import of energy products. Today more than 50% of its requirements have to be imported. If the present trends continue, this figure will increase to about 70% in 2030, with a growing dependency on oil and gas imports. In 1999, the cost of energy imports was more than €240 billion Euro for the European Union (EU-15), or about 6% of its total imports and 1.2% of its gross domestic product [3]. These figures show that the European Union has a vital interest in reducing its degree of dependence on energy imports, and on the other hand to improve the development and increase the share of domestic and sustainable energy resources. In comparison with the strategy of the United States to respond to the increasing demand of energy with an increasing supply, the strategic plan of the European Commission is to implement measures which promote the efficiency of energy use with respect to the reduction of energy demand without reducing the comfort of the customers. According to the point of view of the European Commission, the reduction of energy demand can get influenced more than increasing the supply. Besides these reasons, there are many more strategic motivations and benefits to support the expansion of renewable energies and energy conservation technologies. From an environmental point of view, the increased application of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, and energy conservation reduces the effects of climate change by the reduction of greenhouse gases and pollutant emissions from conventional power plants. Looking from the economic point of view, the expansion of energy conservation and renewable energy technologies allows a sustainable development, creates knowledge, improves the job situation by creating local employment, and will lead to the development of new industry branches in Europe.

Directive #2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and the Council for the "promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources" [4] gives the legal framework for the exploitation of the renewable energy sources in the European Union in the internal market. The directive sets a community target of sourcing 12% of gross inland energy consumption from renewable energy systems by 2010, with an indicative figure of 22% for electricity. It also sets indicative targets for each member state. Furthermore, the directive obliges member states to report on the progress of meeting the national indicative targets, issue guarantees of origin of electricity produced from renewable energy sources, guarantee grid access for electricity produced from renewable energy sources, and assure transparent and nondiscriminating pricing for the grid connection of producers of electricity from renewable energy sources.

Although the European Commission has set general targets for all member states, it does not stipulate them to any mandatory and legally binding policies in order to reach the goals of increasing the share of renewable energy sources. In fact, the individual member states have their full sovereignty and are free to decide which policies they prefer as steering instruments of their choice. As a consequence, different policy mechanisms are applied on a national level in Europe. Based on reports of individual national governments, the report of the European Commission will evaluate the success and the cost-effectiveness of the diverse support systems with respect to specific national targets. If necessary, the Commission can make a proposal for one general and union-wide support policy for renewable energy sources. The Commission will present its evaluations in a report to the European Parliament with detailed information on the experience acquired with the application of the different mechanisms in its member states. The report is expected to be published by the end of 2005.

According to the subsidiary principle, the EU Directive does not require a community-wide framework for all the Member States. Thus, several support mechanisms and policies are applied in different EU member states in order to promote the development of renewable energies, especially in domestic markets. The hierarchy of national policies in context with the European and international policies is shown in Figure 2.1.

Other important directives and legal instruments that have been adopted by the European Parliament and Council in order to achieve the common goal of 12% share of renewable energies of EU-15 by 2010 and to support renewable energies and energy efficiency are, for instance, in chronological order: [5]

• Directive #2000/55/EC on energy efficiency requirements for ballasts for fluorescent lighting [6]

• Directive #2001/77/EC on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources [7]

• Regulation #2422/2001/EC on Energy Star labeling for office equipment [8]

• Directive #2002/31/EC on labeling of air conditioners [9]

International agreements and commitements: e.g. kyoto protocol

European measures, directives and papers: e.g. green paper, white paper, framework programs for R&D

National policies and measures

National policies and measures

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