In November 2011, we started with the first of a series of six roundtable discussion on “The Future of Renewables in Britain and Europe”. Earlier in 2011 we successfully submitted a bit for a EU tender on energy security.
Professor Dr Friedbert Pflüger, Director EUCERS and Claudia Crawford, Director London Office of the KAS welcomed the participants and introduced the roundtable series.
Dr Stefan Tostmann, Head Financial Resources at the Directorate General for Energy and the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission in Brussels introduced his statement with a quote by Niels Bohr: “Prediction is difficult, especially about the future”. Based on the assumption that we may plan but are not able to predict the outcome, Tostmann gave an overview of the Energy 2020 strategy of the Commission and its targets for renewable energy. The main target set out for renewable energy in the strategy is that 20% of the EU energy mix shall be made up of renewable energy by 2020. The key challenges to achieve this goal are defined by Tostmann as the capacity and flexibility of energy infrastructure, energy storage and demand-side management.
Following Professor Paul Ekins, Professor of Energy and Environment Policy at the UCL Energy Institute, University College London gave us an insightful overview on the development of renewable energy in the UK. If he had only 5 seconds to talk, on the future of renewables in Britain and in Europe, he would simply say that it depends on policy. This is because energy from renewable resources is more expensive and don’t perform any better – rather worse – than fossil fuels, in every dimension except for environment, said Ekins.
Renewable energy is the future of the EU’s energy mix, but is not yet developed enough in capacity, infrastructure and storage to supply Europe with reliable energy. Thus bridge-technologies are important, in particular gas. These have to be imported to the European market and thus relations with external partners are core to the EU energy policy and were discussed in the second Eucers Energy Talk.