I am, unusually, not very impressed by your latest article. You have a good point on the ETS system, although fixing the carbon price is only a necessary but not sufficient condition to get to a low carbon economy and a low carbon energy sector. A lot of other things are also needed, including – as you say – maybe more regulation and targets. But there are a number of other things that the Commission did in 2011, alongside the energy efficiency proposals, which are missing in your assessment. These include:
- a major proposal for a regulation on promoting private and public investment in infrastructure networks;
- the Connecting Europe proposal;
- extensive work was also done to get standards for smart grids adopted. If there is any ‘no regrets’ option in the Roadmap apart from energy efficiency measures, it’s modernising and interconnecting grids, whether superhighways or local systems;
- proposals on a stronger external component of energy policy and development of alternative routes and sources of supply; and
- the adoption by the EU of the Commission’s proposals on nuclear waste and its initiatives on safety stress tests, both of which are very relevant to assessing the most cost-effective pathways to a low-carbon economy and energy sector.
The Commission continues to make extensive efforts to get the Renewables Directive implemented in an intelligent way, notwithstanding the constraints of energy mix choice, particularly in the UK. The energy mix and support for renewables have been heavily protected by national governments as an issue of national competence. The Commission has said it will produce a post-2020 renewables strategy in the first half of 2012, alongside a new paper on completion of the internal market, (following all the work in 2011 on getting the job done by 2014) with specific attention given in both documents to creating a better Europe-wide framework for investment in new generation capacity, for which fixing the carbon price is only part of the answer.
The Roadmap is a lever to bring national and European energy policy decisions closer together. It is pointless for the Commission to come forward with ‘concrete proposals’ on getting to 2050 before there is consensus on what the pathways to 2050 may look like.
Philip Lowe (Director General, Energy, European Commission)