World Nuclear News 06 February 2015
The European Commission has launched discussion on the creation of its proposed Energy Union. The initiative, it said, aims to “reform how Europe produces, transports and consumes energy.”
The European Commission announced on 4 February that work to establish the Energy Union had been launched. An “orientation debate” was held that day by commissioners to discuss the aims of the Energy Union.
The primary aims of the initiative, it said, are “diversifying of energy sources currently available to the Member States, helping EU countries become less dependent on energy imports and making the EU the world number one in renewable energy and leading the fight against global warming.” The project has five dimensions: ensuring security of supply; building a single internal energy market; raising energy efficiency; decarbonizing national economies; and promoting research and innovation.
Energy Union vice president
The commission said that the time is right for the creation of the Energy Union. “Energy security is high on the political agenda, and a door for an ambitious climate agreement in Paris at the end of 2015 was opened in the European Council last October,” it said. “The recently adopted Investment Plan for Europe is designed to unlock the financial means the energy sector really needs. The currently low oil prices are also giving an extra incentive and give more political and financial room to do what is necessary to achieve a more competitive, secure and sustainable European energy policy.”
Vice president of the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said, “We will work to ensure a coherent approach to energy across different policy areas, to create more predictability. Climate, transport, industry, research, external policy, the digital economy and agriculture will be all crucial to the project. The Energy Union aims to break the silo culture where it still exists and bring all relevant players to the same table – in short, the Energy Union will set the scene for a new way of making energy policy in Europe.”
Commissioner for climate action and energy Miguel Arias Cañete added, “The Energy Union will be an ambitious project that will set a new direction and clear a long vision for European energy and climate policy. It will not simply be a repackaging of old ideas, and will contain concrete measures to make sure the vision becomes a reality.”
EU energy ministers met today in Riga, Latvia, to discuss the creation of the Energy Union, its key elements and concept.
Speaking at the event, Cañete said, “Achieving the Energy Union will require committed action at all levels of society, and a robust mechanism to bring together this action, ensuring that collectively we deliver on our goals, is essential.”
Also addressing the conference, International Energy Agency executive director Maria van der Hoeven noted, “In the coming decades the EU is expected to retire half of its electricity capacity. Nuclear plants are ageing, with half of the EU’s existing nuclear capacity to be retired by 2040. Environmental rules also require the phase-out of old coal-fired power plants.” She added, “Clearly the energy system is facing significant and rapid change. Market design and cross-border integration must evolve in response.” Van der Hoeven said the Energy Union “presents a tremendous opportunity.”
The Energy Union framework strategy is scheduled for adoption on 25 February.