The Energy Challenge
Making the European energy system more sustainable is one of the greatest challenges facing Europe. The EU responded in 2007 by adopting a package of proposals, paving the way towards a future Energy Policy for Europe. It contains a set of ambitious targets for 2020: (i) reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels; (ii) reducing primary energy use by 20% (through energy efficiency); (iii) increasing the level of renewable energy in the EU's overall mix to 20%; (iv) minimum target for biofuels of 10% of vehicle fuel. These targets are achievable if appropriate technological strides are taken. Therefore one of the key elements of the Energy policy for Europe is the preparation of a European Strategic Energy Plan, which will accelerate the availability of energy technologies and at the same time engage European industry in the process so that it can gain world leadership in this sector.
Europe is suffering from accumulated under-investment due to cheap oil. The energy technology and innovation process has structural weaknesses, such as long lead times for new technologies to mass market, locked-in infrastructure investments, diverse market incentives and network connection challenges. Furthermore, the market take-up of new energy technologies is additionally hampered by the nature of the technologies themselves, because they are generally more expensive than the technologies they replace.
There is therefore a need to create a long term EU framework for energy technology development.