8 November 2011: European Climate Foundation roadmap

Yesterday, I went to the launch of the European Climate Foundation’s latest report, Power Perspectives 2030. This is part of their project on Roadmap 2050, and aims to be a practical guide to a low-carbon Europe. It’s mainly modelling various scenarios rather than putting forward policy proposals. However, it does conclude that:

  • A lot of new electricity grid will be needed – twice the amount of new grid in the 2020s as the amount planned for this decade.
  • The full range of renewables should be supported.
  • A 2030 renewables target is needed.
  • Energy efficiency should be given priority.
  • CCS for both coal and gas is needed, and more should be done to increase public
    support for CCS.

Morten Baek, the Danish Climate and Energy minister, was one of the speakers at the launch. The world has much to learn from Denmark (see Why can’t we all be more like the Danes?) and the recently elected government has set out ambitious plans, notably a commitment to end the use of coal for electricity generation by 2030. Baek said that the European Commission’s proposals for an energy efficiency directive will be high on the Danish government’s agenda when Denmark takes over the presidency of the European Council for the first six months of 2012. This is excellent news – energy efficiency should be top of the EU’s agenda even when there is no agreement at the Durban climate summit, as it will protect people from fuel poverty and help Europe’s economic recovery (see Centre for European Reform: EU climate policies without an international framework). Philip Lowe, the Director General in charge of energy at the Commission, was the next speaker. Unsurprisingly, he also said that the energy efficiency draft directive is a high priority. He then said that the other priority for them is infrastructure. In which case, the commission should amend its EU Budget proposals to put more money into energy infrastructure. Current proposals allocate only €9.1 billion into energy infrastructure, compared to €20 billion for transport. Lowe also said that carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be supported, for both coal and gas, and that this would both incentives and regulation.  If there aren’t regulations, he said,  CCS will require large subsidies.

Then came Claude Turmes MEP (Green, Luxembourg). Turmes is rapporteur (the MEP who drafts the parliament’s position) for the energy efficiency directive. He spent much of his talk attacking Dieter Helm for being in the pocket of the gas industry and so anti-renewable, and said that he’ll try and get Dieter removed from his role as commission adviser.  On energy efficiency, Turmes said that this will require regulation:

… the ETS price would have to be €500/tonne to get energy efficiency moving.

Turmes is against nuclear and CCS.  He’s also sceptical of Desertec, the proposal to generate electricity through concentrated solar power in the Sahara. However, he is strongly supportive of solar PV in northern Europe. To support solar power in northern Europe but not in the Sahara is not very rational, even by politicians’ standards.

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