By guest contributor Rebecca Cooke
The president of the EU Commission has written an open letter urging its member states’ governments to hasten their uptake of renewable technology ahead of the European elections later this month.
José Manuel Barroso drew upon the EU’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and the crisis in Ukraine as reasons to support the rapid expansion of clean energy infrastructure across the continent. He said: “Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels exposes it to both volatile fossil fuel prices and geo-political risks, of which the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is merely the most recent example.”
“The EU’s energy strategy must, therefore, take into consideration the broad portfolio of renewable energy solutions, and in particular the rapid deployment of domestic renewable energies, the related integration technologies, not least infrastructure, and strong energy efficiency policies.”
Europe’s member states are locked into binding renewable energy usage targets and carbon emissions reduction targets for 2020. Of all the 28 member states already three have reached their targets – with nearly six years to go, which some experts have said indicates that the targets are not stringent enough.
Bulgaria, Estonia and Sweden became the first three countries to reach their renewable technology usage targets in March with 16, 25 and 51 per cent of their overall energy demand coming from renewables respectively.
But now Barroso, along with other EU representatives, are pushing for a faster roll-out of clean energy.
Drawing upon the economic boost that a drive for renewable would deliver He said: “Ambitious objectives for renewable energy would significantly reduce Europe’s trade deficit, improve economic stability, boost employment and secure cost-effective energy supplies both in the short and long term.”
He added: “Today, the price of some renewable energy sources is already cost-competitive or sometimes even lower than that of conventional fuel generation, while for the other renewable technologies prices are rapidly approaching cost-competitiveness. It is high time to remove the remaining barriers in Europe’s energy system to fully exploit this potential.”
Earlier this week, figures released from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed that globally there had been a growth in the number of jobs provided by the clean tech industry with more that 6.5 million people being employed in the renewables sector. Of these, over 1.2 million were in the EU – with 371,000 being in Germany where renewable energy has seen considerable growth in the last five years under Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Rebecca Cooke is Trillion Fund’s content editor. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in Journalism from The University of Sheffield in 2012.
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