EU urged to boost investment in renewables

Renewable energy partnerships can help Europe's regions make the most of their natural resources, a parliament conference has heard. Gerald Callaghan reports

By Gerald Callaghan

21 Jun 2012

A discussion in the European parliament on Tuesday brought MEPs together to discuss the European commission's territorial cooperation objectives.

As part of the EU's cohesion policy, the cooperation objectives aim to provide EU member states with the platform to work together and learn from each other through joint programmes, projects and networks.

The conference focused on the northern periphery programme (NPP), which allocates funds to 13 different small scale projects for remote communities in Europe.

Organised by the 'Smallest project', the event highlighted the developments of renewable energy in some of Europe's less favoured areas.

Working with universities, governments and the private sector, the project aims to make renewables more accessible to remote regions in Europe.

Speaking at the conference Greens/EFA MEP Alyn Smith said the projects "empower local communities" by securing funds to develop their own natural resources.

They "put communities in control of their own destiny", said Smith, a member of parliament's agriculture and rural development committee.

The conference comes on the heels of the 20-20-20 initiative aimed at transforming the EU to a low carbon economy by reducing greenhouse gases 20 per cent below 1990 levels, ensuring 20 per cent of the EU energy supply comes from renewables and reducing energy use by 20 per cent.

Nick Lyth, managing director of international resources and recycling institute (IRRI), said "these communities are energy rich, but some are economically underdeveloped and inefficient" due to ineffective energy generation.

The conference was aimed at increasing awareness of renewable energy partnerships and highlighting the business opportunities that they bring.

Ewan Ramsay, operations director of the IRRI, outlined the new investment potential for start-up or early-stage businesses for the water or energy market which he said, "needs development, but is struggling to find the investment to support it".

Christopher Parker, programmes manager for the NPP said, "The project has fulfilled its strategic objectives and now has the potential to influence regional, national, and transnational policies".

He added, "The NPP is due to expire next year and we are extremely pleased with the results.

"Many different strategies have taken off, and now we have to look to 2014 and beyond."

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