20 September 2009: How can the EU best meet its 2020 renewables target?

On Thursday, I launched a report I wrote for the Centre for European Reform on how the EU should meet its 2020 target that 20% of all energy should be from renewable sources (see Centre for European Reform: policy brief: How to meet the EU’s renewables target). Meeting the target would help control climate change, greatly increase EU energy security and create many new jobs and industries. The EU currently generates around 8.5% of its total energy needs from renewable sources. The proportion of energy coming from renewables has increased by a third since the European Commission began taking renewables seriously in 1997. Therefore, Europe needs to move more than three times as fast over the next 12 years as it has over the last 12. This is perfectly possible, but will not be easy.

To harness the enormous renewables resources provided by wind and solar energy, major new electricity grids linking EU member-states across the North Sea, and with North Africa, must be built. The EU institutions should help finance this investment.

Renewable energy is not just about renewable electricity. Only a fifth of EU energy consumption comprises electricity. A major share of the increase in renewable energy capacity should take the form of renewable gas, generated from sewage and other waste. This would significantly reduce the cost of meeting the renewables target, since major investment is already needed to upgrade sewage treatment infrastructure to meet water quality directives.



  1. Jon Trevelyan

    Dear Nick

    Thank you for your comment.

    There is reference to natural gas in the editorial of 14 September 2009 (Is the ‘peak oil’ debate relevant?), which asks whether we should worry about oil and gas running out and points out that more is regularly discovered. The ‘peak oil’ and ‘peak gas’ debates are irrelevant because we cannot afford to burn what we know about already. Shale gas means that there’s more gas available, but doesn’t alter the climate issues. The support by some governments and businesses for CCS and nuclear is partly based on worry about gas running out, but also on where the gas is located, and partly on climate concern. Climate Answers’ support for these bridge technologies until we can be 100% reliant on renewables is based entirely on climate concerns.

    Gas is less damaging to the climate than coal without CCS. But gas without CCS will be more damaging than coal with CCS. The article on CCS (see Carbon Capture and storage on the website) says that it should be demonstrated on gas power stations as well as coal ones – as Total is doing in France.

    Kind regards
    Stephen Tindale

  2. I really liked this post, it’s a good article!

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