18 April 2013 | video posted by Ron
Can Europe join the Shale Gas Revolution?
Last March, the European Commission launched a Green Paper with the 2030 goals for Energy and Climate. At the time, Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said: "I am in favour of producing shale gas, particularly for safety reasons, and to reduce gas prices." And he added. "In the United States, which is a big producer of shale gas, the price of gas is four times less than in Europe." Later this year, the European Commission aims to table a proposal on shale gas that can either be a separate piece of legislation or amendments to the existing one. viEUws' Sonja van Renssen provides a story on the future of an EU Shale Gas Policy, with an overview of how the US is conducting its own shale gas policy.
18 April 2013 | video posted by Ron
Completing the European Internal Energy Market
Following a Communication from the European Commission (EC) last November, assessing the state of play of the internal energy market, to be completed by 2014, the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (INTRE) will vote on its own report in May. The EC's document highlights the benefits of a truly integrated European market for citizens and business.
Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said: "When it comes to gas and electricity, citizens and businesses are interested in two things - security of supply at any time and affordable price. We will best achieve this with a functioning European energy market." This week energy journalist Hughes Belin talked to European Parliament rapporteur on making the Internal Energy Market work, Jerzy Buzek MEP (EPP) about his report and ideas regarding the completion of the internal energy market. "If we want to have an exit strategy from the crisis we should complete the energy market as soon as possible", Buzek said. You can view the complete interview below.
11 April 2013 | video posted by Ron
CNN Money on "The Switzerland of the Middle East"
Recently, CNN Money made a video report about the Kurdish oil economy - or "The Switzerland of the Middle East" as the region is called. It might have escaped your attention, so we've blogged it for you.
27 March 2013 | video posted by Ron
Brussels Briefing on Environment
The March edition of viEUws' Brussels Briefing on Environment provides an extensive update on the latest policy developments, including energy topics such as Climate and Energy Policy 2030, ETS and the back-loading proposal, Indirect Land-Use Change (ILUC) and biofuels.
21 March 2013 | video posted by Ron
Olivier Onidi on the Alternative Fuel Strategy
On 24 January 2013, the European Commission proposed a package of measures aimed at reducing Europe’s reliance on oil and boosting the uptake of alternative fuels such as electricity, natural gas and hydrogen. Policy initiatives so far have mostly addressed the actual fuels and vehicles without considering fuel distribution. This time, policy makers propose a mandatory roll-out of alternative fuel infrastructure, including numerical targets for Member States in terms of electric car charging stations, and obligatory natural gas refuelling points for ships. Leading environment journalist Sonja van Renssen met Olivier Onidi, Director of Innovative and Sustainable Mobility at the European Commission’s DG MOVE, to discuss the alternative fuel strategy - as you can view below.
The interview is centred around six key themes, starting with a discussion of member states’ initial – not wholly positive - reaction to the proposal at a meeting of EU transport ministers on Monday 11 March. Onidi then explains the Commission’s rationale and room for manoeuvre on targets, that these must be mandatory, and why the Commission believes an alternative-fuel infrastructure roll-out will not require substantial public investment. He stresses that 2020 is the right time-frame for this policy initiative and warns that Europe risks lagging behind it’s major trade partners if it does not act quickly.
14 March 2013 | video posted by Ron
viEUws on Indirect Land Use Change
In October 2012, the Commission published a proposal to limit global land conversion for biofuel production. The use of food-based biofuels to meet the 10% renewable energy target of the Renewable Energy Directive will be limited to 5%. There is also a requirement that biofuel factories reduce greenhouse gas emission from fossil fuels by at least 60%. But this will only apply to new plants built after 2014. Leading environment journalist, Sonja van Renssen, met Corinne Lepage MEP (ALDE), Rapporteur on the Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) proposal in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, to discuss the proposal. You can view the viEUws production below:
7 March 2013 | video posted by Ron
Internal Energy Market: a dogfight
Yesterday our friends at viEUws broadcasted their monthly 'Brussels Briefing on Energy'. Hughes Belin takes us trough the latest policy developments in the field of European energy, including the Directive for the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Activities, a Future Energy and Climate Package for 2030 and the Internal Energy Market - of which Philip Lowe, Director-General for Energy at the European Commission, promised "it will be a dogfight to make sure that the directives and regulations aren't just partially transposed but fully transposed." You can view the complete briefing below.
21 February 2013 | video posted by Ron
Wind power in Central and Eastern Europe will become a significant source of electricity production by 2020 - but only if there is stability for investors, according to a recent report by the European Wind Energy Association. 'Eastern Winds' examines the frontier of wind power development in Europe. The report deals with the prospects for wind power in central and eastern Europe, tackles financing and provides an in-depth analysis of 12 emerging wind power markets, highlighting bottlenecks, regulatory challenges and providing policy recommendations.
11 February 2013 | video posted by Ron
Brussels Briefing on Energy
In this latest issue of the Brussels Briefing on Energy, leading energy journalist Hughes Belin provides an extensive update on the latest policy developments and what to expect for the near future in the field of energy policy. Topics discussed include:
7 February 2013 | news posted by Karel
Left-liberals for nuclear power!
At EER we received a rather remarkable press release last week, which we will reproduce in part. It's about a new, "lefty" documentary film that comes out in favour of nuclear power. Here it is:
When was the last time you saw a documentary that fundamentally changed the way you think? It's no secret that just about every political and socially-minded documentary shown at [the] Sundance [film festival in the US] is preaching to the liberal-left choir. The issue may be dairy farming, human rights abuses in Vladimir Putin's Russia, the marketing of AIDS drugs, or Occupy Wall Street (to list the topics of four festival docs this year), but the point of view is almost always conventionally "progressive" and orthodox. So when Robert Stone, who may be the most under-celebrated great documentary filmmaker in America (watch Oswald's Ghost if you want to touch the elusive truth of the JFK assassination), arrived at Sundance this year with Pandora's Promise, a look at the myths and realities of nuclear power, he was walking into the lion's den. For this isn't a movie that preaches to the choir. It's a movie that says: "Stop thinking what you've been thinking, because if you don't, you're going to collude in wrecking the world." Pandora's Promise is built around what should be the real liberal agenda: looking at an issue not with orthodoxy, but with open eyes.
In Pandora's Promise, Stone interviews a major swath of environmentalists, scientists, and energy planners, all of whom spent years being anti-nuclear power - and then, as they began to look at the evidence, changed their minds. The film begins with a deep examination of the psychology of the anti-nuclear view: how it took hold and became dogma. It goes all the way back to 1945, of course, and the horror of the atomic bomb. From that moment, really, the very word nuclear was tainted. It meant something that was going to kill you, in the form of lethal radiation that you can't see. By the time of the "No Nukes" protests of the '70s, to be "anti-nuclear" was to conflate nuclear weapons and nuclear power into a single category of scientific evil, a point of view whipped up, over the years, into a doctrinaire frenzy of righteous fear and loathing by anti-nuclear activists like Dr. Helen Caldicott and reinforced by movies like The China Syndrome and even, in its benign satirical way, The Simpsons.
Stone, a lifelong environmental lefty himself, unravels that thinking. The film's incredibly articulate - and deeply progressive - spokesmen and women explain the nuts and bolts of why nuclear power, manufactured with the sophisticated breeder reactors that are available today, is fundamentally clean, efficient, and, yes, safe. As Richard Rhodes puts it in the movie: "To be anti-nuclear is basically to be in favor of burning fossil fuels." Pandora's Promise makes a powerful case that in an age when former Third World countries, striving for modernization, are beginning to consume energy in much vaster amounts (and why shouldn't they have the right to do so?), none of the alternative energy sources that are commonly talked about by environmentalists (wind, solar, etc.) can begin to fill the planet's energy needs. Only nuclear energy can.
Ah, you say, but what about Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima? The ultimate issue raised by nuclear power - the one that, according to conventional progressive thinking, stops the pro-nuclear argument right in its tracks - is, of course, the issue of safety. But this is where, as a society, we desperately need more filmmakers like Robert Stone. Carefully, piece by piece, without hysteria and without dogma, he looks at the evidence of what actually happened during those three infamous catastrophes: the reality of the damage, and the reality of the aftermath. The results, if you truly listen to them, are almost spectacularly counter-intuitive. They won't leave you shaken. They will begin to shake you out of your old tired ways of thinking.
The most startling argument mounted by Pandora's Promise is that the rise of nuclear power is not merely a good thing, but probably inevitable, because it is, in fact, the only way that we can power the planet and save it at the same time. In what has to be the ultimate liberal-documentary irony, Stone demonstrates that the dire threat of global warming all but demands nuclear power as the key to its solution. Without it, the debate will go on, but carbon dioxide will continue to fill the atmosphere, and liberals everywhere, caught up in reflexive modes of environmental "activism" that are now not just complacent but perilously out-of-date, will continue to let their anxieties trump reality."
Mind you, at EER we have no official line "for" or "against" nuclear power. In fact, we have not seen Robert Stone's documentary, because it is not available in Europe yet. But it seemed worth bringing to your attention.
17 January 2013 | video posted by Karel
On BP's Energy Outlook 2030
BP on Wednesday published its annual Energy Outlook to 2030 for the third time. BP is famous of course for its Annual Statistical Review of Energy, which usually comes out in June and which is essentially backward looking, but the last three years the company has also publicly launched its view of our energy future. We will have more to say on this in one of our next newsletters. An important difference between BP's Energy Outlook and for example the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook is that the latter presents policy-driven scenarios, whereas the former tries to make a straightforward prediction of what will happen in future in energy supply and demand. You can find more information here, including this video-interview below with BP's Chief Economist Christof Rühl.
7 January 2013 | video posted by Ron
Irish priorities on energy
Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union began on January 1st 2013 and runs for the first half of the year. Leading energy journalist Hughes Belin met Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte to discuss the Irish Presidency's key priorities in the field of energy policy. Topics include safety of offshore drilling, internal energy market, renewables and biofuels/ILUC. You can view the complete interview below.
4 January 2013 | news posted by Karel
Dieter Helm's new thriller separates climate fiction from fact
Dieter Helm's new book "The Carbon Crunch" reads a bit like a detective novel. It is about "who killed climate policy". And how we can revive the corpse.
Helm is of course one of the most famous energy economists in Europe - a professor of energy policy at the University of Oxford and a fellow in Economics at New College, Oxford. He has also served as special advisor to the UK government and to the European Commission. Yet Helm is not afraid to take on the powers that be - any powers. He challenges policymakers, many of his fellow academics, green NGO's and industry, all with sensible arguments, but without pulling any punches.
He starts his story with the stark observation that international climate policy, led by the EU as self-styled climate frontrunner, is an outright failure. The endless UN climate conferences and the famous Kyoto treaty are not delivering the goods. Neither is the EU Emission Trading Scheme. Moreover, what is worse, climate as a public concern is sliding down the political agenda. Clearly, something must be done - and done quickly - to stave off disaster.
Well, disaster? Is climate change really the threat that many people say it is? Helm notes that the public has become more sceptical in this regard - or more fatalistic, with the same effect. To his credit, he does not blame the "climate sceptics" or ExxonMobil for this. On the contrary, "green" NGO's and climate scientists deserve a lot of the blame, as they are frequently guilty of alarmist predictions and pretending to be certain about inherently uncertain things. Helm candidly acknowledges that climate predictions are uncertain. Global warming could still turn out to be limited to the low end of the predictions, he says, in which case it would not really be such a big problem. But, he says, we simply cannot take this risk. Substantial warming would spell ruin to the human race.
The solution, Helm writes, has to start with identifying the real causes of the problem. The "prime villain of the piece", according to Helm is: coal, coal and coal. After that it's of course oil and gas, but climate change cannot be addressed without addressing the emissions caused by burning coal in power plants. Coal-burning is (and has been) done all over the world of course, but the astounding growth of coal-fired power production in China and India is the major threat to the planet at this moment. This growth, in turn, is caused by economic growth and population growth.
Not really a surprising observation, one might say, but the point is, says Helm, that our current climate policies are not addressing those causes at all. "Kyoto", for example, does not do anything in this respect. Neither does covering the European seas with wind turbines or rooftops with solar panels. This is so much money wasted. These policies allow European politicians to grandstand about how brilliantly Europe is limiting its emissions, but they do not have any significant effect on the climate.
And Helm has another telling point to make in this context: the EU may be limiting its emissions from carbon production, but this is because European industrial production has shifted to a considerable extent to Asia - and the EU does of course import Asian products for its consumption. So what really counts is not so much carbon production, but carbon consumption. In the UK, for example, notes Helm, carbon production went down 15% between 1990 and 2005, but carbon consumption went up 19%!
So what should be done? Three things, according to Helm. First of all, a carbon price should be set, in the form of a tax on carbon consumption rather than in the form of an emission trading scheme. How this should be done, he does not explain in detail, but part of the plan is to tax the carbon content of products, including imports. This last is unavoidable, because if - say - the EU were to only tax its domestic goods, production would shift to regions without a tax.
Helm hopes that if the EU were to start with "border carbon taxes", other economic powers, such as China and the US would follow. They would have a powerful incentive to do so, he writes, because by setting their own border taxes, they would keep the revenue from them rather than seeing this paid to their trading partners.
The second part of Helm's policy plan is to ensure that coal-fired power plants are massively replaced by gas-fired power. The shale gas revolution, which is spreading from the US to China now, makes this possible. For Europe this means it should develop its own shale gas resources and break its dependence on oil-indexed long-term contracts with Russia. Helm does not deny that shale gas has environmental issues to cope with, but the transition from coal to gas is by far the most cost-effective short-term measure that can be taken to limit emissions. Current renewables, he argues, are, for various reasons, just not up to the task.
The third step is, simply, to put a lot of money into R&D. In particular, Helm argues that the huge amounts of money spent on subsidizing current forms of renewable energy, such as offshore wind power, are largely wasted and should instead be directed towards research and development of what he calls "future renewables".
As with most detective stories, the murder and the search for the murderer are more convincing, perhaps, than the solution to the crime, which is always a bit unsatisfactory. One wonders, for example, whether China and India (and the US) will go along with Helm's plan for carbon taxes and coal-to-gas substitution, but then again, no one can force these countries to take part in any kind of climate policy if they refuse to do so.
Helm is at least honest enough not to pretend that climate policy is somehow going to be effective without economic sacrifices. Any solution will hurt, no matter how much politicians prattle about "green growth". He notes that "the current industrial structures of all developed and most developing countries are overwhelmingly carbon-based … Decarbonizing requires the coordinated replacement of almost all of the capital stock - of the world."
Whether political leaders will be able to persuade people to shed "blood, sweat and tears" in this cause, is the big question. They could at least start by reading this book. It is written with enough suspense to read it under the Christmas tree.
20 December 2012 | news posted by Sonja
A Christmas present for EU renewables
"Christmas has come early," announced EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard in Brussels on Tuesday in awarding €1.2bn of EU grants to 23 innovative renewables projects. This is money raised on the EU carbon market over the past year by selling the first 200 of 300 million carbon allowances ("NER300") set aside specifically to raise funds for innovative renewables projects – and for carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS was the initial target in mind when this fund was created back in 2008 as part of the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) review. Yet not a single CCS project was funded on Tuesday.
In the weeks leading up to the decision, the European Commission had already hinted that this was going to happen, because the NER300 rules stipulate that to be eligible for EU funds, projects had to be backed by a national government that could prove adequate co-financing of at least 50%. “It is only with confirmed projects that we can continue our journey,” the European Commission’s Director-General for Climate Change Jos Delbeke warned in early October. But CCS is expensive and the likeliest candidates for a share of the money – up to €337m per project – fell by the wayside one by one (see "The CCS mess").
In the end, the French-led Ultra-Low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) project was the only CCS candidate reported to have met the co-financing requirements. Originally last on the shortlist, this unlikeliest of candidates – its blast furnace was actually shut down a year ago – nonetheless seemed set for success. Until project owner ArcelorMittal withdrew the project earlier this month due to “technical difficulties”. This leaves the €265m that had already been allocated to it, plus another €10m in admin money, up for grabs. What will happen to them? They will be booted over to join revenues from the sale of the remaining 100 allowances of the NER300 next year, said Hedegaard on Tuesday. So they could end up funding either CCS or renewables projects.
Unlike CCS, the renewable energy sector stands ready to welcome this early Christmas present from the EU. Funds will go to projects in bio-energy, concentrated solar, geothermal, wind and ocean energy, and smart grids (the only notable absentee from this list is photovoltaic power). The largest individual share, or €200m, will go to a Dutch biomass refinery project called Woodspirit. Hedegaard spoke of “a major milestone in EU climate policy” when she announced the awarding of the grants.
So is the era of renewables finally upon us? Renewable energy reps certainly think so. Rémi Gruet from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said: “EWEA warmly welcomes the award of about €1.2bn for renewable energy projects, including 6 wind projects. The number of projects ready for funding shows the responsiveness and great innovation potential of the wind and renewable energy industry.”
Not everyone was satisfied, though. Greg Arrowsmith, a consultant who has advised several renewable energy NER300 projects and also works as policy officer to an association representing renewable energy research centres (EUREC Agency) said: “€1.2bn is a welcome shot in the arm for those involved in bringing new and comparatively risky technology to market. But the 1st-call pot was €1.5bn, not €1.2bn. Under a fair interpretation of NER300 rules... the entire pot should go to renewable energy projects.”
Hedegaard made clear on Tuesday however, that this will not be the case. “There is a dual purpose in this legislation, it is for renewables and it’s for CCS,” she told reporters. “Therefore it also makes sense when in the first call, for a number of different reasons there will be no CCS projects, that at least we take care that the possibility will be there for the next round. I have reasons to believe that there will be some CCS projects that will make it to the second call.” Certainly EU sources said at least one CCS project – the Dutch Green Hydrogen project, originally a favourite for funding – had this very Tuesday finally confirmed co-financing. It came too late for this round of money – the confirmation deadline was the end of October – but it bodes well for the second round.
Insiders say it’s likely the Dutch project, a UK project and perhaps ULCOS after all – assuming the French government finds a solution to re-open the blast furnace – will benefit from EU funds in the second round. The criteria for awarding money to CCS projects – cost-effectiveness per tonne of CO2 stored – will not be changed, Hedegaard said, meaning that coal projects will continue to be heavily advantaged compared to gas.
Revenues from the remaining 100 million allowances should be awarded by the end of 2013, Hedegaard said. The Commission aims to kick off this process “as soon as possible” next year. This second round could actually raise more money than the first if the Commission has its way and member states and the European Parliament agree to short-term measures to boost the carbon price (see "Crisis in the ETS comes to a head").
For more information, see also NER300.com, an unofficial, independent (and very useful) portal dedicated to renewable energy and grid integration projects vying for access to these funds.
By Sonja van Renssen in Brussels
17 December 2012 | video posted by Ron
Oil refining: do we want a pistol to our heads?
The European oil refining industry is under strong, international competitive pressure. It is suffering from over-capacity, restructuring and planned closures. On 26 November, the European Commission held the conference "The Future of refining in the EU: Safeguarding competitiveness" to identify means to address EU refining competitiveness challenges. Leading energy journalist, Hughes Belin, met Richard Howitt MEP (S&D), to discuss the European oil refining crisis. "So everyone here buys the argument about energy efficiency in relation to gas, what about refined oil? Do we really want to allow the people who refine our oil to be in those unstable countries and to be able to hold a pistol to our heads? The same argument applies and it's about time that people in this place woke up to it", Howitt said. You can view the complete interview below.
10 December 2012 | video posted by Ron
Quick fix for ETS
Recently, leading environment journalist Sonja Van Renssen met with Director General for Climate Action, Jos Delbeke, to discuss proposals for fixing the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)."If there is a consensus, or a quasi-consensus that we should go fast, then we have a solution, which is the permanent cancellation of allowances. That is presented as something that still could be done in the coming 20-24 months", Delbeke said. viEUws posted the video last week, and we'd like to share it with our blog readers.
29 November 2012 | video posted by Ron
And the winner is...
In Brussels on 13 November the Florence School of Regulation, an academic institution specialised in market regulation, gave out its third annual Energy Transparency Award. The award goes to a company or institution that has made a special contribution to transparency in the European energy market. The winner this year was the European Energy Exchange (EEX), in particular because of the EEX's "Transparency in Energy Markets Platform". On this website, anyone can check how much conventional, solar and wind power was produced at any one day and even hour in Germany and other countries covered by EEX. After the ceremony, Daniel Wragge, the Head of Political Communications at EEX, was interviewed by EER's editor Karel Beckman.
26 November 2012 | video posted by Ron
'We'd like to have ETS at the centre'
Jesse Scott, Head of Environment and Sustainability at Eurelectric, shares her thoughts on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the Commission's proposal to increase the carbon price. "We would very much like to have the ETS at the centre, and supplementary policies only where they are necessary because a carbon price is not delivering in the short-term", she says in the video below.
19 November 2012 | video posted by Ron
For or against shale gas?
Banned in France, allowed in Poland: shale gas exploration causes controversy in Europe. What role should the EU play? MEPs Boguslaw Sonik and Michèle Rivasi give their opposite views in this video from EuroparlTV.
15 November 2012 | video posted by Ron
On the Shale Gas Resolution
Ahead of the European Parliament's vote on the Shale Gas Resolution later on in November, leading environment journalist, Sonja Van Renssen, talked to Rapporteur Boguslaw Sonik (Polish EPP MEP) about his report. See the video below.
2 November 2012 | video posted by Ron
viEUws on European Energy Infrastructure
In this overviEUw on Energy Infrastructure, viEUws' and EER's leading energy journalist Hughes Belin explains the key aspects of the development and implications of the European Energy Infrastructure:
1 November 2012 | news posted by Karel
The birth of a new lobby group: the European coalition for renewable energy and gas
Brussels already has many lobbying groups for renewable energy, such as EREC (the European Renewable Energy Council), EWEA (European Wind Energy Assocation) and EPIA (the European Photovoltaic Industry Assocation) as well as for gas, such as Eurogas, Gas Naturally and Shale Gas Europe. Nevertheless, a handful of renewable energy and gas companies found it necessary to establish yet another lobby club: "The European Coalition for Renewable Energy and Gas". They - we're talking about Shell, Dong Energy, First Solar, GE and Alpine Solar - call it "The Energy Partnership".
Five companies do not seem to form a very solid foundation for a European Coalition, but the Energy Partnership says it would welcome "the participation and support of other energy sector players who share our thinking and goals, including civil society organisations". In broad terms, the main goal is to promote the idea that the integration of renewables and gas is the ideal recipe for the transition to a decarbonized energy system.
The interest the gas producers have in this constellation is clear enough. The gas-fired power sector is under heavy pressure from renewable energy on the one side and cheap coal-fired power production on the other. What it needs above all is a higher carbon price, to make gas cheaper than coal - and this indeed is one of the major planks of the Energy Partnership: to "generate confidence" in the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).
Why renewable energy companies would want to lobby for gas is much less clear. Of course so far, apart from First Solar, no dedicated renewable energy companies are yet part of the group. Then again, the Energy Partnership seems to already have achieved a great victory for the renewable energy sector: at the launch of the group on Wednesday, Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger called for new renewable energy targets for the period after 2020, reports European Voice.
This is an important signal for the renewable energy sector, as up to now there are only targets for 2020. But should gas producers be happy with Oettinger's announcement? European Voice notes that "the partnership itself is divided on the issue of a 2030 renewables target. Dick Benschop, a vice president with Shell, said each of the companies have their own position on the issue."
30 October 2012 | video posted by Ron
Brussels Briefing on Energy
In this latest issue of viEUws' Brussels Briefing on Energy, leading energy journalist Hughes Belin provides an extensive update on the latest policy developments and what to expect for the near future in the field of energy. Topics discussed include Safety Offshore Oil & Gas Activities, Nuclear Stress Tests, Climate Impact Biofuels and Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). Stay tuned:
23 October 2012 | video posted by Ron
Three in a row
Our good friends at viEUws keep up the good work on video journalism. Sonja van Renssen discussed the potential of shale gas with Member of the European Parliament Niki Tzavela - European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee rapporteur on shale gas - and with Joe Hennon, Environment Spokesman for the European Commission. And finally, Member of the European Parliament Jacek Saryusz-Wolski met with energy journalist Hughes Belin to discuss the EU Energy Roadmap 2050. You can view the three interviews below.
15 October 2012 | news posted by Brook Riley
Governments fall into own trap with EU Energy Efficiency Directive
Perhaps some of you remember the embarrassing (for some) story about how the EU’s 20% renewable energy target came into being? After the renewables directive was agreed, governments belatedly realised they had signed up to meeting a 20% share of energy rather than a 20% share of electricity… It was a much more ambitious target, but it was too late to back out.
Now it turns out that something similar has happened with the EU energy efficiency directive.
Two key agreements – both on the binding 1.5% annual savings target – made the deal on the energy efficiency directive possible in June.
The first allowed member states to use four exemptions (read ‘loopholes’), providing these do not lower the 1.5% target by more than 25%. One of these loopholes is to credit savings made before the directive is implemented in 2014. This is a legal accounting trick known as ‘early action’.
The second agreement was that member states could credit additional early actions on top of the 25% exemption bundle. It was a sort of loophole in a loophole. Without this compromise there would not have been a deal on the directive.
But the condition was that only those member states which already have ‘energy efficiency obligation schemes’ (i.e. savings targets for energy companies) in place, could credit this additional early action. They were France, Denmark, Italy, Poland and especially the UK – the lead advocate of the loophole.
Now Germany, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and a few other member states have just woken up to the fact that, as they don’t have energy efficiency obligation schemes, they don’t qualify for the extra exemption. They are privately furious, but the deal is already made.
It gets even better. We now know that the right to use additional early action on top of the 25% limit was nothing more than a gentleman’s agreement made to secure the deal. It has no legal basis in the directive and could be rejected. If it is, the UK, France, Italy, Denmark and Poland will also have to make significantly (about a third) more savings than they envisaged.
But will anyone force them to comply? It seems the EU Commission will respect the gentleman’s agreement unless there is an outcry against it. This is already happening. ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law organisation, has notified the Commission that the additional early action is legally unjustified: governments are essentially seeking to cheat on their savings targets.
The UK – the country that pushed the hardest to dilute the efficiency directive – deserves most of all to be shown up. In June, Secretary of State Ed Davey claimed that “The UK played a central role in not only brokering a deal but also increasing its ambition”. It was an irritating comment at the time. But Davey’s statement is now much more accurate than he realised.
By Brook Riley (email@example.com), Friends of the Earth Europe
2 October 2012 | video posted by Ron
Brussels Briefing on Energy
In this week's issue of Brussels Briefing on Energy, Vieuws' and European Energy Review's journalist Hughes Belin provides an extensive update on the latest policy developments and what to expect for the near future in the field of energy. Topics include energy agreements with third countries, the Gazprom competition probe (interview with MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski), the Energy Infrastructure Package (interview with Rapporteur António Fernando Correia de Campos) and the Internal Energy Market.
But that's not all for now. Last week Hughes also spoke with Lord Mogg, CEER President and Chair of the ACER Board of Regulators, about the EU Energy Infrastructure Package. You can view the two interviews below.