Renewable energies: Is the European economy turning green?
Résumé de l'étude de cas
In 2008, Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger declared that "The energy challenge is one of the greatest tests for us all. Putting our energy system onto a new, more sustainable and secure path may take time but ambitious decisions need to be taken now. To have an efficient, competitive and low-carbon economy we have to Europeanise our energy policy and focus on a few but pressing priorities." Europe has set the example for environment-friendly reforms in many domains. In particular, it is one of the top producers of energy from renewable sources, and continues to introduce directives to limit greenhouse gas emissions despite the relative failure of the Copenhagen summit. By 2020 renewable energy should account for 20% of the EU's final energy consumption (it stood at 9.2% in 2006). Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished). Nuclear power is not considered to be a source of renewable energy but a low carbon emission source. Renewable energy sources (RES) have experienced tremendous growth in recent times. A European Environment Agency analysis of the 20% target shows that electricity will make up 45% of the EU's renewable energy production, with heating and cooling comprising 43% and transport 12% in 2020. Also, 36.1% of electricity will come from RES in 2020. These calculations from the 19 member states which are part of the National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) stress the increasing economic importance of renewable energy in the EU. The fact that the results calculated by the member states contradict the Commission's most ambitious scenario in its latest Energy Trends to 2030 update, which foresees the same figures ten years later, in 2030, also shows how difficult it is to analyze this sector. This difficulty makes it all the more interesting and challenging to study this new but crucial economic sector. Furthermore, the growth of renewable energy production will probably strengthen European unity, creating an additional connection between member states: cooperation mechanisms are being put in place to ensure the delivery of the national targets, re enforcing the "community spirit". Using these mechanisms will be essential for countries with relatively high targets but very limited domestic sources of renewables. The improvement of inter-state flexibility mechanisms will be essential not only to achieve the targets, but also in significantly reducing the costs of compliance. In economically challenging times, Europe needs a strong future-oriented industry and the creation of new jobs. Renewableenergies enable to secure economic, environmental and social benefits. What is the future for renewableenergies both at the national and the European level, in economic terms? In the first section of the essay, I will present the different types of renewable energy resources available in Europe, comparing their economic advantages. In the second section, I will analyze a few recent and determining EU policies dealing with the promotion of renewableenergies, as well as the EU's prediction of their economic impact. Finally, in the last section, we will study how effectively member states have applied these policies, and how the reforms implemented have changed or are expected to change their national economies.
Sommaire de l'étude de cas
I) The different types of renewable energy resources available in Europe, and their respective economic advantages
II) EU policies and their economic impact
III) The implementation of the policies at the national level: impacts and results
Extraits de l'étude de cas
[...] Second, it plans the further integration of the pan European energy market. In the line of the single market, it aims to complete by 2015 an internal energy market. Within this market, the Commission proposes to introduce simpler and shorter building permits to accelerate EU strategic projects. Also, the Commission aims at creating an EU leadership in energy technology and innovation, particularly with four major projects. These consist of the ?smart cities? partnership to promote energy savings in urban areas, research on second-generation biofuels as well as new technologies for electricity storage and intelligent networks. [...]
[...] In addition, France has been looking at the area of solid biomass. In TWh of electricity were produced from biomass, along with 9.2 Mtep for heat production. France has developed many policies on the national level to support the growth of the renewable energy sector. Feed-in-tariffs have been introduced in 2001 and 2002 for hydro, PV, biomass, landfill and sewage gas, offshore wind, CHP, geothermal and solid waste. In addition, a tender system has been introduced for large renewable projects. [...]
[...] Most nations do not have sufficient arable land to produce biofuel for the nation's vehicles, or cannot afford to divert land away from food production. The current best locations to grow such crops are unused desert lands with high solar radiation. Indonesia and Malaysia have been planting oil palm to supply Europe's demand for biodiesel. However, a great use of biodiesel in Europe would make it dependent on other countries' productions. The following chart represents the consumption of biodiesel of each EU member state in 2008. Finally, a third economically important renewable resource used in the European Union is hydrogen energy. [...]
[...] The United Kingdom is one of the countries where renewable energies are a very important part of the government's climate change strategy. They are strongly supported by the Green Certificate System which forces suppliers to purchase a set percentage of electricity from RES. Progress towards meeting the target has been great: the part of renewable energies in the distributed electricity has increased of approximately 70% from 2000 to 2005, mainly thanks to the development of its wind energy capacity, both inshore and offshore. [...]
[...] However, new techniques such as onshore wind, PV energy and biomass are promising, especially with the adoption of the Technical Buildings Code in 2006. The average growth rate for PV energy is of 54% per year for example. To support the growth of RES-E, Spain has implemented different mechanisms. First, it provides feed-in tariffs as well as premium prices, primarily supporting biomass, biogas and solar thermal electricity. The support for hydro plants and new wind has however been decreased. Furthermore, concerning RES-H, the Technical Buildings Code of 2006 makes it compulsory for all new buildings and restorations to cover 30-70% of domestic hot water demand from solar thermal energy. [...]
À propos de l'auteur
Fannie D.EtudianteÉcologie et environnementRenewable energies: Is the European economy turning green?