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Thursday, March 6, 2008

EU renewable energy target

EU carbon storage proposals get mixed reviews

28 January 2008
Improved clarity regarding state aid rules and inclusion into the EU's carbon-trading scheme were among the features of new proposals on carbon capture and storage (CCS) put forward by the Commission in its climate and energy package last week. But doubts remain as to the effectiveness of the expensive technology in reducing the bloc's CO2 emissions.
  • Promoting CCS

The Commission's 23 January proposals endorse CCS by removing a number of important obstacles that previously blocked the development of the technology.

First, the EU's guidelines on when member states are permitted to subsidise industries were expanded to allow for the potential inclusion of CCS.

Second, CO2 that is captured and stored will be credited as "not emitted" under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), a provision many firms consider crucial in order to justify the investments necessary.
  • The CO2 calculation

A major element of the controversy surrounding CCS is whether or not it is a cost-effective solution for reducing CO2 emissions. The Commission admits that CCS will only be deployed when the "price per tonne of CO2 avoided by CCS is lower than the carbon price".

The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) predicts that after 2020, 85% of all new coal-fired power plants will be equipped with CCS, leading to a reduction of carbon emissions at a price range of between 20 to 30 euros per tonne of CO2 saved. According to this scenario, by 2030 CCS could save 3.1 gigatons of CO2 annually at a global level.

  • 'Low hanging fruits'

Energy efficiency improvements in the buildings and transport sectors - which carry no net costs due to the resulting energy cost savings - could produce annual CO2 reductions of nearly seven gigatons by 2030, according to MGI, which is much more than even the most optimistic projections for the more expensive CCS.

But improving energy efficiency in buildings and transport involves the regulation of a high number of small emitters and the coordination of numerous fragmented standards and practices - a more difficult task for policymakers than reducing the CO2 intensity of large power-production facilities.

Efforts by EU legislators to tighten efficiency standards in passenger cars, for example, have met with stiff resistance from industry. source

My comment:Mmm, I have mixed feelings toward CCS, because of the obvious lack of control over the facilities that will store the CO2. How are we supposed to know that it's safe there and that it will stay stored and won't leak out with water and back into the atmosphere. Because as far as my geography education goes, there were certain type of caves that were produced by this mechanism. And that's definitely not good. On the other part, energy efficiency for me should be the most invested in area, after solar and wind powers, as this is the biggest playing ground on the issue. And it's proven good.

EU states handed ambitious renewable energy targets

24 January 2008

The European Commission put forward ambitious targets yesterday (23 January) to boost the EU's overall consumption of renewable energies to 20% by 2020. But while the plans to promote technologies such as solar and wind were largely welcomed, Brussels faces widespread criticism over controversial biofuels targets.

On March 2007, EU leaders committed to increasing the share of renewable energies in the EU's final energy consumption to 20% by 2020, and promised to up the use of biofuels in transport to 10% by the same date.

Since then, the Commission has been charged with formulating policy proposals to reach the targets, triggering a flurry of stakeholder activity.

In the weeks leading up to the publication of the proposals, controversy surrounded the Commission's plans to promote renewables through the trading of guarantees of origin (GOs - EurActiv 16/01/08), and the sustainability of the biofuels target was questioned by the Commission's own scientists (EurActiv 18/01/08).

Differentiated targets for EU member states

A proposal for a new EU directivePdf external , published on 23 January, mandates each member state to increase its share of renewable energies - such as solar, wind or hydro - in an effort to boost the EU's share from 8.5% today to 20% by 2020.

A separate target to increase biofuels use to 10% of transport fuel consumption is to be achieved by every country as part of the overall EU objective.

To achieve these objectives, every nation in the 27-member bloc is required to increase its share of renewables by 5.5% from 2005 levels, with the remaining increase calculated on the basis of per capita gross domestic product (GDP). The plans will need to be defined along three sectors: electricity, heating and cooling and transport.

Virtual power flows

The Commission's proposal allows for the virtual trade in renewable energies involving Guarantees of Origin (GOs), which certify the renewable orgin of electricity produced. This provision already features in existing EU renewables legislation (see EurActiv's LinksDossier), but has hardly been utilised, according to the Commission.

Under the system, member states may invest in renewable energy production in another member state in exchange for GOs, which can be counted towards the renewables target on the condition that a member state must have already reached its own interim target before being allowed to receive investments and transfer GOs to another member state.

Buildings and district heating

While the focus of the directive is on the promotion of large scale renewable energy installations, member states are nevertheless requested to use "minimum levels of energy from renewable sources in all new or refurbished buildings", and the text makes provisions for the mutual recognition of certifications for technicians who install renewable technologies in buildings (see also our LinksDossier on EU buildings legislation).

Grid access

Many smaller producers of renewable energy argue that a lack of transparency and blocked access to energy grids are preventing them from competing on the market (EurActiv 06/07/07).

The text seeks to address the problem by requesting member states to ensure that the transmission and distribution system operators provide "priority access to the grid system of electricity produced from renewable energy sources."

Biofuels and sustainability

Brussels has come under acute pressure from green politicians, NGOs and the scientific community to provide robust sustainability criteria to ensure that the 10% biofuels target does not lead to ecosystem loss, deforestation, population displacement, food price increases and even higher CO2 output.

The Commission's text includes the following criteria:

  • Land use - old forest with no or limited human intervention cannot be used for biofuels cultivation, nor can 'highly biodiverse grasslands', or lands with a 'high carbon stock' like wetlands or 'pristine peatlands';
  • CO2 impact - the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) savings from biofuels production must be at least 35% in order for cultivation to be considered sustainable.

The Commission will put forward sustainability criteria for energy use of biomass by the end of 2010. source

My comment: Read HERE for the positions on the proposal. As a whole, I think people reacted more or less positively, excluding Germany that supposedly said "The Commission shouldn't dictate the rules to us" which is ridiculous. Who are THEY that we all should consider their feelings? I'm quite amazed by the capricious way Germany treats every attempt to put its industries in some kind of environmental order. Beginning with the compromise BECAUSE of GERMAN cars to allow bigger cars to emit more with is absolute nonsense and finishing with "energy intense industries" namely steel, aluminum and so on that should receive FREE allowance of CO2. Excuse me, how come the most polluting businesses shouldn't pay for their polluting? How are they supposed to know they must obey the rules when we continually leave them out of the rules? Or make special rules for them. That's ridiculous and very dangerous. But oh,well.

I'm happiest with the part for Biofuels. That they shouldn't be grown on forest lands. I just hope EC manage to enforce this one, as it's extremely important. It's the only way to protect precious species and areas from economic massacre.

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