What future for EU energy?

Written by The Parliament Magazine on 16 June 2017 in Opinion
Opinion

Biofuels are an essential part of the energy transition, argue Hans-Olaf Henkel and Marijana Petir.

What future for EU energy? | Photo credit: Adobe Stock


Hans-Olaf Henkel, Parliament's ECR group shadow rapporteur on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, believes that, "we need an EU-wide renewable energy target of at least 35 per cent by 2030. If we do nothing but maintain the status quo, we will most likely reach the 27 per cent by 2030 anyway. Investors need certainty and clear policy signals coming from the EU. Chinese investments and demand drive prices down.

Our firms invest in R&D and innovate and we are not the only ones benefitting from them. European companies participate in wind farms or solar park projects contributing to security of supply and the transition to a low-carbon future across the globe."

The German MEP adds, "In the medium- to long-term, I believe we will be able to lower electricity prices for the benefit of our businesses and consumers. The competitiveness and success of renewables depend on market- based approaches and the liberalisation of European energy markets, which the Commission's proposal supports.


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Unrestricted trade of electricity across the EU with stronger regional coordination and a European oversight to achieve in the long-term a liberalised common energy market will contribute significantly to achieving better prices for all European consumers."

Regarding the transport sector - which is responsible for a large portion of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions - Henkel argues, "Biofuels are indispensable for the transitional phase to the decarbonisation of the transport sector. Many member states have put ambitious targets in place. In this transition phase, in which we need biofuels, we should make sure that we get the sustainability criteria right and stop deforestation in third countries."

Marijana Petir, who is Parliament's environment, public health and food safety opinion rapporteur on renewable energy progress, expects "a new EU energy regulatory package to provide a greater energy independence of the Union, to help us achieve the goals of the Paris agreement, to increase the security of investors and to ensure equal conditions for all technologies without disturbing the Union's climate and energy goals."

The Croatian MEP also sits on Parliament's agriculture and rural development committee, and in this role, she says, "I would like to focus on topics that are very important for European agriculture and could have an impact on farmers, agricultural production and rural areas, with particular emphasis on greenhouse gas savings, biomass use and sustainability criteria for biofuels and biomass."

The EPP group deputy adds, "Given that road transport accounts for 20 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions, I believe it is necessary to determine the sectoral target of using renewable energy in road and rail transport at European level with a biofuel share of at least 15 per cent. 

"I believe that the level of production of conventional biofuels should remain at seven per cent of final gross energy consumption in the transport sector at European level without phasing down to 3.8 per cent by 2030, as proposed by the Commission. 

"Given the specificities of the member states, I propose that EU countries should be allowed to determine independently their share of the contribution in the transport sector within the integrated national energy and climate plans."

According to Petir, "The present production of first-generation biofuels is well integrated into EU agriculture. That production is not just a production of biofuels, but it is at the same time the production of protein-rich animal feed. I consider that as a viable alternative to the import of GMO soybeans from America, which the EU imports because of its protein deficit. 

"According to Eurostat data, less than one per cent of agricultural land in the EU is used for bioethanol production, while about two per cent of agricultural land is used for the production of biodiesel, hence that production could not endanger the production of food in the EU."

 

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