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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Energy unbundling in Europe-welcome to neverland, july, 2009

Today:
  1. EU tackles 25 states over energy liberalisation
  2. Solar power 'could challenge electricity companies by 2020'
  3. 'Baltic Energy Market' takes shape
  4. Sweden seeks to steer EU onto energy-efficient path
Quote of the day:But note that in the article it is said that countries have already received such letters in 2006 for the same reasons. So, what exactly the Commission is doing to encourage countries to obey EU regulations is a mystery to me.

EU tackles 25 states over energy liberalisation

26 June 2009

The European Commission accused 25 of the bloc's 27 countries yesterday (25 June) of breaching rules to boost competition in energy markets, taking the first step towards possible court action.

It launched so-called infringement procedures for failure to implement the EU's second package of internal energy market laws - reforms phased in between 2004 and 2007 to open gas and electricity markets to more competition.

The 25 are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and Britain.

Only Malta and Cyprus avoided action.

"In this time of economic and financial crisis, it is simply unacceptable that European consumers and companies suffer the burden of an ill-functioning energy market," EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said in a statement.

The 25 will receive letters of formal notice for not complying with gas and electricity regulations, the European Commission said in a statement. Many of those states had received warnings on similar issues in 2006.

Key violations identified by the Commission include lack of information provided by electricity and gas transmission system operators that are obstructing access of supply companies to networks. The EU executive also singled out "the persistence of regulated prices, especially for the benefit of large customers," which it says are "putting obstacles in the way of new market entrants".

Other violations include the absence of "simple and inexpensive" dispute settlement procedures for consumers at national level, which the Commission sees as "a fundamental premise" of the EU energy market.

Meanwhile, environment ministers meeting in Luxembourg formally approved the EU's third package of reforms, which aim to liberalise EU energy markets further still. source

My comment:Oh yeah? Lol, only Malta and Cyprus are missing from the list. I wonder what they did to avoid it? :) Ok, it's not funny, yesterday we received our heating bill and it's so unfair, because we have to pay when we haven't use heating the whole winter! And every month, we have payed our bills like we use it. It's absolutely unfair. With electricity, it's little bit better, but the truth is that the prices are so high, it really doesn't matter-you simply cannot pay less. But note that in the article it is said that countries have already received such letters in 2006 for the same reasons. So, what exactly the Commission is doing to encourage countries to obey EU regulations is a mystery to me. And yes, I do think they have to forcefully make them follow the directives. It's not even about the EU so much, it's about consumers, electricity and gas producers are usually monopolists and providers are in the cases of East Europe-western companies. So, we have disobedience on governmental level. Done to screw the consumers and take their money, so that they can fill the gaps in their budgets. Fair? Not at all.

Solar power 'could challenge electricity companies by 2020'

23 June 2009

Photovoltaic power (PV) could meet up to 12% of Europe's electricity demand by 2020 if a favourable policy framework were established to support it in the coming years, according to a new study by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

Photovoltaic solar power could rival other forms of electricity production in most of the EU market (75%) without subsidies by 2020, the study concludes. In some parts of Europe, notably southern Italy and large parts of Spain, it will already be competitive by next year, it adds.

The study explored different policy scenarios, showing that a business-as-usual scenario will only deliver 4-6% of electricity from photovoltaic power. But with the right support schemes in place, the industry could make a significant contribution to the EU's sustainable energy strategy by bridging a third of the shortfall still expected to remain in 2020 and helping the bloc achieve its goal of producing 20% of its energy from renewables.

The industry insists that it is ready to deliver the necessary cost reductions, but says it will need well-designed support schemes for the next five or so years to increase production volumes.

In the past ten years, PV has had new capacity installed at a higher rate than any other energy source, the study states. EPIA argues that reaching 12% will not be impossible, but simply in line with previous development.

However, photovoltaic power currently supplies less than 1% of the EU's electricity needs and would require a substantial boost to reach significant production volumes.

The study argues that the best way to promote PV uptake is feed-in tariffs. This has proved a success in Germany, which is one of the world's leading countries in the field. In order to bring about a paradigm shift on photovoltaics, consumers would see their electricity bills increase by 2.2% to pay for the tariffs, according to the study.

Moreover, cutting red tape and adapting the grid to integrate large volumes of renewable energy will be necessary, EPIA adds. The study argues that net metering, which allows households to sell their solar energy back to the grids and charge more for peak-time energy, would boost PV's competitiveness. source

My comment: Ok, I didn't edit this article, because it's very useful. Solar panels are really worth the trouble, but without a well-developed grid, they simply cannot deliver! We have to require the political will to make those grids happen. And they will be extremely useful for further integrating Europe - if you're in say Britain and you buy your electricity from say Greece or Bulgaria, you'll be very careful with your xenophobic outrages. And this really is the next logical step toward our common market. Of course, it's unrealistic to expect you can transfer electricity from Balkans to Britain without any losses, but still, the point is that we need that grid. This will unify us a great deal, it will soon decrease the cost of electricity, remove the burden of coal/oil/gas burning for heating and it will create high-qualified jobs. That's wonderful! It will also ease our dependency over non-European energy sources-as Russia, Algeria, Turkmenistan and so on. We will produce what we need. And it's not only photovoltaic, it's wind, water and sun.

'Baltic Energy Market' takes shape

22 June 2009

Eight Baltic Sea states last week (17 June) launched an action plan to connect Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to EU energy networks, providing a signpost for the Swedish Presidency's agenda for the Baltic Sea region.

The Baltic Energy Interconnection Plan responds to calls for a more integrated electricity market in the Baltic region, as highlighted by the European Commission's Second Strategic Energy Review in November 2008.

Sweden is expected to drive the plan's implementation forward during the second half of the year, after having declared the development of the Baltic Sea region one of the priorities of its EU presidency.

The plan aims to extend the liberalised Nordic electricity market model to the Baltic states as the basis for a regional market there. This could then be integrated into the Nordic one, the Commission said.

Removing regulated tariffs and cross-border restrictions, separating the activities of Transmissions System Operators (TSOs) and opening the retail market fully are identified as steps to an integrated market that comply with the rules for the future EU internal market.

The plan covers a number of electricity infrastructure projects to link the Baltic states and Poland with the Nordic countries, and reinforce the electricity grid between the three Baltic states. A second set of projects establish interconnections between Nordic countries, including the Fenno-Skan II between Finland and Sweden.

A separate set of electricity interconnections is envisaged between Poland and Germany in order to reduce "loop flows" resulting from wind generation in the North rather than in view of market integration.

Energy infrastructure projects in the region could receive over half a billion euros of additional support, as many of the proposed projects are earmarked for money from the European Economic Recovery Programme (EurActiv 07/05/09), the Commission says. source

My comment: I, of course, support the development of the Baltic region, because it really is an energy island that we have to use properly. I just hope that this project won't be the end of the story, but merely its beginning. We all want access to cheap energy and we all have some form of energy with which to contribute to the European budget. For example, in Bulgaria, there are many rivers. Most of which have already power plants on them, but their effectiveness is questionable, so I'm sure we could work on that. But I know of one plant, that produces as much as a reactor of our power plant. Or two. That's quite much!

Sweden seeks to steer EU onto energy-efficient path

25 June 2009

Sweden plans to step up Europe's energy-efficiency legislation as it takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency at the beginning of July.

Sweden will be well-placed to push its vision on energy efficiency as it takes the EU helm in the midst of the revision of the EU's energy efficiency action plan. The Commission launched a public consultation on 8 June and plans to present a new plan in November.

Sweden has themed its economic and environmental strategy as a "transition into an eco-efficient economy".

Tapping into the EU's large energy-savings potential forms an important part of the switch to a new economic model. Sweden is thus pledging to push ahead with energy-efficiency legislation even in the absence of a political agreement between EU ministers.

According to Swedish government sources, the presidency will initiate discussions on the plan at the informal energy and environment ministers' meeting in Sweden on 23-25 July. It hopes to present the Commission's blueprint, if ready in November, at the December Energy Council.

Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson said her country would adopt a "systemic perspective" to the plan. The incoming presidency will look beyond energy-efficiency standards for individual appliances to the whole energy chain, from production to end use.

Sweden is home to the best insulated homes in Europe, and has a long tradition of district heating from renewable sources.

The action plan aims to achieve the EU's goal of saving 20% more energy in 2020. But unlike the EU's other 2020 targets (slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and raising the share of renewables in the bloc's energy mix to 20%), the energy-efficiency target is not binding.

Nevertheless, many are looking to the Swedish Presidency to push for legal commitments.

Sweden plans to reach an agreement with the Parliament before the year's end on key energy-efficiency proposals mapped out in the Commission's Second Strategic Energy Review in November 2008, and wants to move even without a common position in the Council.

The incoming presidency is set for hard bargaining on the buildings directive. MEPs' call for all new buildings to produce at least as much energy on site as they use by 2019 is viewed as unrealistic by member states, which are worried that the directive will prove expensive and administratively burdensome to implement.

The Swedish official said the Council talks had so far barely even touched on the issue of zero-energy buildings.

Sweden set itself an ambitious national agenda when it presented its "integrated climate and energy policy" in March. The government pledged to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in sectors that do not participate in the EU emissions trading scheme by 2020, with the aim of becoming completely carbon neutral by mid-century.

To become 20% more energy-efficient by 2020 in line with the non-binding EU target, the Swedish government said it would invest around €27.3 million annually between 2010 and 2020 in implementing energy-efficiency measures.

Priority is given to initiatives that better inform households and businesses of opportunities to save both money and energy. Among other things, the government plans to introduce requirements for electricity and hot water metering in new and renovated buildings, and boost investment in technology in order to facilitate the introduction to the market of energy-efficient technologies. source

My comment: That's cool! I so hope that Sweden can achieve what nobody else did. Because efficiency is really important and because I so want to see Europe going green. It's they way I want to see Europe-green, self-sufficient and abundant. Eh, so many hopes for so little time.

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