5th Jul 2020

EU energy policy lacks vision, says new wind-energy boss

  • The EU represents 71.6 per cent of installed wind power capacity in the world (Photo: European Community, 2005)

The EU should use the current uncertainty about future energy policy to shift course and take advantage of the energy supplies that are right on its doorstep.

"We are at a point in time where we have the opportunity to shape our energy future," the head of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), Christian Kjær, said in an interview with the EUobserver.

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"Europe is not rich on conventional fossil fuels," he said adding that the EU would get the energy independence it is seeking if the bloc spent more time developing renewable energies already existent in Europe, such as wind, water, solar power and biomass.

According to estimates, the total energy consumption in the EU is expected to increase by 25 percent over a 30 year period.

"If we make a committed effort for [renewables] we wouldn't need to engage with the rest of the world in a 'war' for the remaining conventional energy sources," Mr Kjær

He warned that if the EU does not change its policies, future energy supplies will not only be expensive but also extremely damaging to the environment. "We will be handing over an enormous bill to our children."

"We need commitment and ambitions on behalf of politicians in order to change direction," said Mr Kjær, who conceded that it would be a challenge to turn Europe towards a supply based on indigenous clean energy.

But compared to maintaining the current structure, he said, with all its geopolitical risks, its energy dependence, the volatile fuel prices, the pipelines, the exploration and excavation, it is "a trivial challenge."

A common energy policy

Mr Kjær was dismissive of the commission’s energy paper published on 8 March, which listed a number of options for achieving "sustainable, competitive and secure" energy supplies in the 25-member bloc.

"It lacks vision," said he said.

"The Green Paper addresses too much how we are going to secure the current energy framework through energy diplomacy and talks too little about cutting to the root of the problem."

He explained that the real problem is that the EU will, as demand rises, be importing an ever growing share of energy at unpredictable prices and will do that in competition with the rest of the world "at unbelievable environmental costs."

Mr Kjær, however, agrees with the commission, that a common energy strategy is needed and believes a free market is essential.

Wind energy would have no problem competing with nuclear power on the electricity market if governments did not secure insurance liabilities for the plants and if the market was liberalised, he said.

At the moment, wind energy meets three percent of the EU’s electricity demand – a figure that is expected to grow steadily in the coming years.

Denmark is the leader in the manufacturing and use of wind turbines, with 20 percent of its electricity generated by wind turbines - the highest percentage of any other country in Europe.

Germany and Spain have the highest capacity of wind turbines in Europe while the EU as a whole represents 71.6 percent of installed wind power capacity in the world.

North America represents 14 percent while Asia - an increasingly growing market for wind energy - so far represents 0.09 percent. India particularly is rapidly increasing its wind power capacity.

"The future for wind energy looks very bright," stated Mr Kjær adding that at some point wind energy will provide electricity and energy to the same extent as conventional energies sources today.

"My main job is to make sure it happens sooner rather than later."

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