EU renewables targets "will be challenging"

At least six countries would be asked to do more than currently planned, draft figures show

Indicative renewable energy targets for EU member states to be proposed shortly by the European Commission will put at least six countries under pressure to launch new, more ambitious policies, ENDS Daily has learned. Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal are the countries affected.

The figures' emergence follows just one day after EU energy commissioner Loyola de Palacio announced that the forthcoming draft renewable energy directive would propose national renewables targets (ENDS Daily 10 April). Although these are to be non-binding, she stressed that, under her plan, the Commission would monitor countries' progress and "present proposals" should any fall behind. Even without this threat, it would be politically difficult for countries to fail to meet approved targets.

The figures show how Ms de Palacio's department thinks the "burden" should be shared of increasing the overall EU share of renewable electricity from 14.5% currently to 23.5% in 2010 (see table below). The energy directorate calculates that this would fulfil the Commission's 1997 goal of doubling the share of renewables in overall energy production from 6% to 12% by the same date. The directive is due to be officially launched early next month, but has still to be finally approved from other Commission departments.

For seven countries, the directive is set to endorse current government policies for increasing the share of renewable electricity by "generally reflecting" the levels already adopted. Figures are not yet included for Denmark and Sweden.

For the remaining six countries, however, the Commission asserts that there remain "positive potentials" for increasing renewables "which are not fully reflected in the national targets". Without seeking to meet these, it says, the EU as a whole will not be able to meet its target of doubling the share of renewable energy by 2010.

The likely EU targets for national renewable energy were welcomed by environmental groups today. Stephan Singer of the World Wide Fund for Nature said today the targets were "very good," provided that new large hydropower projects and energy from waste incineration were not used to reach them.

----------------------------------------------------
de Palacio plan for EU countries' renewables targets
(% of electricity generated renewably)
             1997 actual   2010 targets   % increase
----------------------------------------------------
Austria         72.7           78.1            7
Portugal        38.5           45.6           18
Finland         24.7           35.0           42
Spain           19.9           29.4           48
Italy           16.0           25.0           56
France          15.0           21.0           40
Greece           8.6           20.1          134
Germany          4.5           12.5          178
Ireland          3.6           13.2          267
Netherlands      3.5           12.0          243
Luxembourg       2.1            5.7          171
UK               1.7           10.0          488
Belgium          1.1            6.0          445
Denmark           -              -            -
Sweden            -              -            -
----------------------------------------------------
Source:  European Commission
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Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111.

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