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Green Paper on Energy - March 2006

Updated: March 14, 2006

March 8, 2006, the EU Commission released a Green Paper "A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy" calling for a number of initiatives to reduce the combined environmental and security of supply problems of the large fossil fuel consumption in the EU countries. The proposed ideas fall within 6 key areas:

  • Complete the internal electricity and gas markets based on the assumption that competitive markets improve security of supply and reduce prices. Proposals include a European grid-code, a European energy regulator authority to deal with cross-border trade issues, a priority interconnection plan with stimulation of investments to ensure interconnection levels of at least 10% as agreed in Barcelona in 2002, regulatory framework to stimulate investments in power plants, and further thinking in the new Commission high-level group on Energy, Environment and Competition. The EU Commission will present concrete proposals by the end of the year.
  • Security of supply in the internal market. The proposals include a European energy supply observatory, increased cooperation between network operators to assist an EU country with supply problems, more transparency regarding oil stocks, common standards for infrastructure including gas storages.
  • Towards a more sustainable, efficient and diverse energy mix with an EU-wide debate. The paper expresses concern regarding high reliance of gas, and of phasing out of nuclear if it is replaced with natural gas. Proposals are a Strategic EU Energy Review, an EU overall strategic objective such as a minimum level of overall energy mix to originating from secure and low-carbon energy sources (which is renewable energy + nuclear)
  • An integrated approach to tackle climate change in line with the Lisbon strategy. Proposals are promotion of energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) including and Action Plan on Energy Efficiency, a 20% target for EE by 2020, use financial instruments for EE such as the EU Cohesion policy with Structural Funds, a renewed emphasis on EE in transport, EU-wide white certificates trading, better labeling and standards for EE including a global agreement on energy efficiency. For RE is proposed a Renewable Energy Roadmap with renewed efforts to reach RE-targets, consideration of new renewable energy targets, a directive for renewable heating and cooling, plans to replace oil with renewables, R&D as well as market introduction activities. A more controversial proposal is mentioned which is to increase R&D in carbon capture and storages technologies as well as a support for large-scale demonstration programmes.
  • A Strategic European Energy Technology Plan. Proposals are to use the proposed European Institute of Technology and the 7th R&D Framework Programme as well as to develop a vision for the transformation of the energy system. Other proposals are partnerships for large-scale integrated actions (strangely the ITER fusion project is mentioned here), and use of the Intelligent Energy for Europe programme.
  • A common external energy policy, identifying priorities for upgrading and construction of new gas and oil pipelines, partnerships and dialogues with energy producing countries and transit countries, developing a Pan-European energy Community Treaty (with open energy markets and promotion of Trans-European Energy Networks), a new energy partnership with Russia, a new EU-level mechanism to deal with emergency situations of external supply, more cooperation with major energy producers and consumers, and an international agreement on energy efficiency. It is also proposed to expand the number of countries covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to countries outside EU, to increase cooperation on climate, renewable energy, and global market access, and to focus on energy for developing countries, including large hydro.

The Green Paper have been criticized for its lack of targets for renewable energy (see e.g. www.ewea.org and www.eufores.org, for its continued reliance on unsustainable and futuristic technologies as nuclear fusion + fission and carbon capture and storage (see Friends of the Earth) and its low target for energy efficiency.

Read INFORSE-Europe Press Release ( pdf-download)

Read the Green Paper, COM 2006(105) (html/pdf)