Renewables for 2030

The only viable power source

Renewables – wind, solar, sustainable hydro and limited quantities of sustainable bioenergy – are the only inexhaustible, safe and technologically viable energy source. Already in 2010, renewables accounted for 21% of the EU's electricity production. [1] In the space of just one year, from 2009 to 2010, installed solar power capacity in the EU increased by 85% and wind power increased by 13%. [2]

Friends of the Earth Europe supports a 100% renewable energy system for Europe for 2050. The feasibility of this scenario has been confirmed by studies by the German Aerospace Centre, [3] providing significant reductions in energy use take place. It has also been confirmed – albeit for renewable electricity – by the European Commission. [4] Large-scale investment in renewables will push down electricity prices. This is because, unlike fossil fuels and nuclear, there is no 'fuel' component to the cost of wind, solar or hydro. The effects are already being noticed. In Germany, prices on the short term electricity market were found to be up to 40% cheaper in 2011 compared to 2007. This is attributed to increased production in solar electricity. [5] It is just as important to note that many renewables use today's technology – rather than relying solely on solutions which are always a few years away from success.

The EU cannot afford to be technologically neutral. It must increase security for investors and encourage the development of renewables by setting a binding target for 2030.

This is essential to prioritise renewable energies, but it is just as important to pick the right type of renewables. It is likely that the EU will meet over half of its 2020 renewables target with biomass and bioenergy. [6] But much of this may not actually contribute to emissions reductions, due to the current lack of carbon accounting. With growing concerns about the greenhouse gas balance of many types of biomass and bioenergy – as well as effects on biodiversity, land use, and competition with food production – the EU needs to get policies right by capping the contribution of bioenergy to renewables targets at sustainable levels, and promoting only bioenergy that is both sustainable and delivers real carbon benefits. Because of these concerns, Friends of the Earth Europe prioritises non-combustion resources (including wind, solar, and sustainable hydro, wave and tidal power).

We believe it is crucial to include citizens in decisions about our energy future. Renewable energy projects should involve local people in their planning processes, offer them the opportunity to invest, and guarantee that the local community shares in the benefits. Involving communities has the potential to boost public acceptance of renewable energy, deliver up-front investment, provide a source of local funding, and contribute to community cohesion.

 

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[1] Eurostat, EU energy in figures, 2012

[2]  Eurostat, EU energy in figures, 2012

[3] For Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council. http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/Publications/2012/ER-2012/

[4] European Commission (2011), ‘Energy Roadmap 2050’. The ‘high renewables' scenario expects that 97% of the EU's electricity consumption would come from renewables in 2050. See page 4, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52011DC0885:EN:NOT

[5] This refers to cheaper prices on the spot market. See Ecofys, page 9, http://www.ecofys.com/files/files/ecofys_can_foe_2012_saving_energy.pdf

[6] European Environment Agency. ‘Renewable Energy Projections as Published in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the European Member States’  http://www.ecn.nl/docs/library/report/2010/e10069_summary.pdf

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