Energy savings in buildings and transport should be a top priority over the next decade, the European Commission (EC) said today as it set out its energy strategy to 2020.
said investments in the order of €1 trillion (£85 million) would need to be made over the next 10 years to make Europe’s energy
more sustainable and secure. Energy efficiency
was one of five "pressing issues" that needed to be addressed, alongside market competitiveness, security of supplies, technological leadership, and clout on the international stage.
In its report, 'Energy 2020
’, the Commission admitted that Europe’s current energy strategy was "wholly unsustainable" in the longer-term and was struggling to meet shorter-term targets, in particular around energy efficiency
"The energy challenge is one of the greatest tests for us all," said Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. "Putting our energy system onto a new, more sustainable and secure path may take time but ambitious decisions need to be taken now. To have an efficient, competitive and low carbon economy we have to Europeanise our energy policy and focus on a few but pressing priorities."
Europe has pledged to cut greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2020. It is also committed to increasing renewable energy by 20 per cent and to make a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency over the next decade. However, in its report, the EC said the "move towards renewable energy use and greater energy efficiency in transport is happening too slowly".
To get on track, the Commission said Europe needed to focus on energy efficiency in transport
, through the electrification of the road transport system, and greener buildings
– two sectors it said that had the biggest energy saving potential.
Green building investment
When it came to buildings, it said it would target house owners and businesses, offering "investment incentives and innovative financial instruments" by mid 2011 to help them renovate and introduce green measures.
In the industrial sector, it said energy efficiency certificates could be an incentive for companies to invest in technology that uses less energy.
Renewable energy competition
The EC said Europe faced other threats, including increased competition from the US and China for attracting renewable
energy investment. It said a new "new stimulus" was required to help Europe maintain its lead in renewable energy.
It called for "a pan-European integrated energy market" and energy infrastructure investments to the tune of €1 trillion (£85 million).
And it said energy technology and innovation
needed to be prioritised with particular emphasis on technologies for intelligent networks and electricity storage, research on second-generation biofuels and the 'smart cities' partnership to promote energy savings in urban areas.
The EC said it would come back with legislative initiatives and proposals within the next 18 months.
Its proposals will follow the first EU Summit on Energy on February 4 2011, where its report will be discussed.
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