While most agree on the need to transition away from fossil fuels, renewable energy is not the only contender for picking up the slack In 30 years time when you boot up your computer, flick on the light switch or...
This is an important issue, as decisions need to soon be made about how to replace Europe’s ageing energy infrastructure in the form of power plants, transmission lines and energy grids. Any decision made now about which form of energy to invest in will lock Europe into a commitment for decades to come.
But there’s no clear winner. Renewable energy suffers from timing. After all, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. CCS – burning fossil fuels, capturing the carbon and storing it underground – is a risky and unproven technology. Nuclear energy creates toxic waste, which if in the wrong hands could be used to create weapons.
Understanding that Denmark holds an important role in shaping the agenda, the ten largest environmental organisations, including the WWF and Greenpeace, were in Copenhagen last week on Friday as the ‘Green10’ to lobby the Danish government.
“Half of the EU’s infrastructure is coming to the end of its lifetime and vested interests want to keep it in fossil fuels,” Green10 spokesperson Jorgo Riss told The Copenhagen Post.
Riss added that he had seen plenty of EU presidencies arrive with honourable intentions about increasing renewable energy production in Europe, only to be led astray by lobby groups representing the carbon and nuclear industries, or distracted by their own domestic agenda.
“Lidegaard has a lot of work on his plate because he’s also co-ordinating his national energy policy, while also managing the larger job of managing the future of the EU’s energy,” Jorgo said. “Denmark can make renewable energy the winners, but it depends on whether they build the right alliances and recognise that it’s a power game and that they have to work hard behind closed doors to get the results.”
Speaking to The Copenhagen Post, Lidegaard reinforced the message that Europe’s energy future was with renewable energy, but he accepted that even selling the message of green investment during a time of austerity might be difficult.
“There is no doubt that the economic crises is at the heart of European politics, and recovering the European economy is the main priority for member states, but green growth and the green transition of the European energy supply system is part of the solution,” Lidegaard said.
“We must convince EU partners that setting the right framework for a low carbon economy can be a driver of innovation that gives European companies the possibility to achieve and maintain a global lead position in technologies related to energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.”
While Europe will have to invest in its energy infrastructure regardless of the economic crisis, the question is who gets the money. Lidegaard may seem dead-set on promoting renewable energy, but many experts have argued that the European grid cannot survive on renewable energy alone and will need stable sources of energy from fossil fuels or nuclear power to make sure there is always power being generated. This issue is made more complex by the decision in Germany to end all investment in nuclear power in a knee jerk reaction to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan following last march's tsunami.
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