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Renewable energy: Green Paper

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1) OBJECTIVE

To open up a debate on the most urgent and most important measures relating to renewable sources of energy, identifying the objectives, the obstacles and the means to be deployed.

2) COMMUNITY MEASURE

Commission Green Paper of 20 November 1996 on renewable sources of energy.

3) CONTENT

Current situation: the European Union has significant potential renewable sources of energy, but they are unevenly and insufficiently exploited. The sector currently accounts for 6% of gross inland energy consumption, and this is forecast to rise to between 7.4% and 9% by 2010, depending on changing policy assumptions, to which it is particularly sensitive.

Advantages of using renewable sources of energy:

  • in line with the overall strategy of sustainable development;
  • helps reduce the European Union¢s dependence on energy imports and hence ensure security of supplies;
  • helps improve the overall competitiveness of European industry;
  • has a positive impact on regional development and employment;
  • is favoured by the general public.

The following obstacles hinder a more widespread use of renewable sources of energy:

  • high capital costs with long payback periods;
  • the various players involved in decision-making affecting renewable sources of energy are unaware of their potential;
  • general resistance to change;
  • technical and economic problems affecting connection to centralized electricity grids remain unsolved;
  • difficulties linked to seasonal variations in certain energy sources (wind and solar);
  • other energy sources (biofuels) require appropriate infrastructure.

The Green Paper fixes an ambitious objective: to double the contribution of renewable sources of energy to gross inland energy consumption within 15 years (i.e. to 12% by 2010), which would have a net positive employment effect of more than 500 000 jobs.

This objective requires the full commitment of Member States.

This objective requires the strengthening of Community policies:

  • internal energy market (system of renewable energy credits, fiscal harmonization, State aid, standardization);
  • specific financial support (ALTENER programme: ECU 40 million for the period 1993-1997);
  • increase in the share of renewable sources of energy in research and development programmes (JOULE and THERMIE);
  • regional policy favouring the promotion of renewable sources of energy, particularly in peripheral and rural areas;
  • compatible agricultural policy promoting the production and development of sustainable sources of energy;
  • exploitation of renewable energy potential for the economic development of Central and Eastern European countries, Mediterranean countries and developing countries.

4) DEADLINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LEGISLATION IN THE MEMBERS STATES

Not applicable.

5) DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE (if different from the above)

Not applicable.

6) REFERENCES

COM(96) 576 final
Not yet published in the Official Journal

7) FOLLOW-UP WORK

8) COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

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