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Brussels, 8 January 2007

Europeans firmly behind research into new energy technologies

A Eurobarometer opinion survey on energy technologies published today by the European Commission shows that 60% of EU citizens think that energy research should be a priority for the European Union. The report also shows that Europeans are highly positive about renewable energies. In the future Europeans expect the use of fossil fuels to drop, to be replaced by renewable energy. The Commission has also published a scientific report which looks at energy consumption up to 2050. It examines several future scenarios, including a strong carbon constraint regime and development of hydrogen as an energy carrier. Both scenarios, which show a rising role for renewable and nuclear energy in Europe's future, rely on advances in technologies such as carbon capture & storage, low energy buildings, low emission cars and hydrogen production from renewable and nuclear sources.

"Europeans recognise that new technologies could have a very big impact on the energy system of the future and they expect more cooperation at European level to develop such technologies" said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. "At EU level, we will invest over €6 billion on energy-related research over the next 7 years, and we will work with Member States and industry to get the most out of these investments."

The Eurobarometer survey questioned Europeans on a range of issues linked to Europe's energy future. Europeans are aware of many of the major issues in this policy area, such as energy dependency and the energy mix of fossil fuels, renewable sources and nuclear. The survey examines attitudes and behaviour regarding energy consumption, with a majority (54%) considering reducing this as a priority. The survey also shows that energy prices are a major concern for Europeans with 33% identifying prices as the first energy-related issue coming to mind and 76% considering that energy prices will double in the next 3 years.

The Commission has also released today the WETO-H2 study. This research study, carried out by scientists in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, UK and Poland, as well as the Commission's DG Joint Research Centre, identifies a reference projection of the world energy system in 2050 and looks at two varying scenarios: a carbon-constraint case and a hydrogen case. In the reference case, world energy consumption doubles by 2050. Oil and gas supplies reach a plateau, i.e. neither a peak in oil, nor abundant and cheap oil and gas.

The developing world represents two-thirds of world energy consumption and coal is seeing a return as an important source of electricity. Under this reference case, world levels of CO2 emissions will be above what is considered sustainable in Europe, i.e. global average temperatures more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, although European emissions will be 10% lower than today and 70% of electricity in Europe will be derived from non-carbon sources (renewable, nuclear and carbon capture & storage). The carbon constraint scenario looks at the impact of much more ambitious policies to restrict carbon emissions, firstly in the industrialised world with developing countries taking action later. In this scenario there is accelerated take-up of renewable and nuclear energy and advances in energy technologies. The hydrogen scenario assumes additional breakthroughs that increase the cost-effectiveness of hydrogen technologies, leading to a tenfold increase in hydrogen production between 2030 and 2050, 90% of which is from non-carbon sources. In this scenario, hydrogen provides about one third of energy consumption in the transport sector.

For details of the Eurobarometer and the WETO-H2 study, see MEMO/07/3 and MEMO/07/2.

The reports are available at:

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