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Energy security, environmental sustainability and EU market liberalisation are the overriding, and linked objectives of EU energy policy. There are clearly various ways to achieve this, including. Gunther Oettinger, EC commissioner for Energy, outlined these aims during his confirmation hearing on 15 January 2010.
Amongst other things, Mr Oettinger wants to see EU treaties replace bi-lateral energy supply contracts. He stated that “legal measures” would be the best way forward. The Lisbon Treaty contains new powers, making energy a shared competence and adding a new article to the treaties proving for EC action on energy solidarity.
The role of Russia as a reliable partner in energy is a perennial question that is yet to find a satisfactory answer. The Nabucco pipeline, which is set to start construction in 2011 and start delivering gas from Azerbaijan and Iraq to the EU in 2015, is likely to be part of the continuing search for one. Difficult issues remain in relation to agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan on gad transmission prices, but the importance of the project to the EU makes it likely that a solution will be found.
Energy generated from renewable sources in the UK currently stands at 10% of the total. The aim is to increase this to 30% by 2020 (10% more than the EU’s 20/20/20 commitment). On 9 January, the government announced the preferred bidders for nine areas around the UK seen as suitable for development of a third round of offshore power. This could provide up to 30 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, which would account for about one third of EU existing and planned offshore wind energy (The European Wind Energy Association).
The liberalisation of energy markets, which is an avowed aim of EU energy policy, but has not been entirely successful. Vested interests (e.g. E.ON, in member states such as Germany) are continuing to seek to protect their dominant positions.
The final and perhaps one of the most important points to make is that first movers in low-carbon technologies will reap the financial benefits. The Danish wind sector and German solar sector have both benefited from being first movers. These sectors are providing the innovation-driven, “green jobs” that the UK must develop if it is to remain competitive in the global economy.
- Strongly supports increased funding for low-carbon energy generation
- Strongly supports energy market liberalisation