EU's Energy Policy Lacking Leadership 

By Maj-Britt Meyer Hansen, 8. October 2007

- The time is right to submit a tangible proposal in order for the decision concerning 20 percent renewable energy in the EU to be able to be turned into a reality," write Civil Engineer Søren Dyck-Madsen of the Ecological Council and Senior Consultant Ulrich Bang of the Danish Energy Association in the newspaper Børsen last week.

It is clear that the EU is suffering from an energy policy hangover. This spring, the EU's Heads of State ambitiously embarked upon a grand new direction with a decision to the effect that 20 percent of the European energy supply would have to come from renewable energy in 2020. A decision that the Danish Energy Association and the Ecological Council completely support. However, since then, a disturbing silence has descended over the EU Commission and the European Heads of State. The grand gestures and the congratulatory toasts have clearly been succeeded by a dogfight over the finer details. A dogfight concerning how the bill should be paid.

The time is right for a country to take the leadership and help the Commission by submitting a tangible proposal, so the decision can be turned into a reality. Perhaps it could be Denmark that tackles this role for both the fine details as well as the overall structure? The Ecological Council and the Danish Energy Association would be pleased to assist the Danish government in making progress on the issue.

In the world of real politics, it is obvious that the EU's large initiative in renewable energy will require thorough considerations before the decision can be implemented. The decision will require gigantic investments – an amount in the billions with three digits – and no country wishes to sit back and be stuck with the ”Old Maid” in the form of a larger bill than the others. But that just makes it all the more important that overall leadership be taken up in the here and now for the implementation.

The Ecological Council and the Danish Energy Association have a model that can be used to break the impasse and open up the negotiations. The model that addresses the widespread political view that the resultant construction programme can be managed by having each individual country be subjected to a requirement to build a specific number of wind turbines and other types of renewable energy installations is simply untenable, and any implementation in that direction would certainly lead to a perpetual fight over who should invest how much.

Hence the EU needs to go in a different direction with the implementation.

The most optimum model is for the EU to impose binding obligations on the member states requiring that an annually increasing quantity of renewable energy be sold to customers in their national energy markets. An amount of renewable energy that must differ from country to country. In practice, it would be the energy companies that are tasked with having to sell more and more green power in their markets. The obligations of the energy companies will be adjusted upwards each year until the EU goal is reached.

In order to document the quantity of renewable energy sold, there would also be a green certificate for every single kilowatt-hour of green power that is produced and sold to consumers.

An implementation along these lines would bring market forces into play, and at the same time mean that wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy will be built in the specific country where one can get the most green power for the money. A Danish consumer would thus not solely receive green power from wind turbines in Denmark, but rather from a European market with many electricity producers. It is good for the consumers. It is good for the businesses. It is good for the energy market.


  • Chief Consultant, M.A. (Tech.Soc.)
  • Ulrich Bang
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