April 13, 2012 / 3:21 PM / in 7 years

EU states say renewable goal not fair on other fuels

* Informal talks to discuss roadmap beyond 2020 goals

* Poland says unreasonable to discount coal

* Britain, France seek “technology neutral” approach

By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS, April 13 (Reuters) - Renewable energy does not have more right to an EU target than other fuels, according to pro-nuclear states and coal-intensive Poland, as debate heats up over updating a 2020 goal to have a 20 percent share of green fuel in the energy mix.

The comments from Britain and France, as well as Poland, have been made as part of consultations on the Energy 2050 Roadmap. It lays out routes towards a low carbon economy after the European Union’s firm set of policy goals expires in 2020.

Progress on taking green energy policy further has been fraught and Poland in March vetoed an attempt then to agree non-binding milestones for future carbon reductions.

Apart from the 20 percent renewable goal, the EU also has objectives to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent and to improve energy savings to 20 percent, all by 2020.

Informal ministerial talks hosted by the Danish EU presidency in Denmark next week will again tackle the topic of getting beyond 2020 ahead of a more formal meeting in June.

“The task of developing a post 2020 European energy strategy is urgent,” a background paper from the Danish presidency seen by Reuters said. “Investors are already considering 2030 investment decisions.”


Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said in December interim targets needed to be agreed by 2014, the end of the current Commission, and by 2030, it should be possible for 30 percent of the energy mix to come from renewables.

Poland, France and Britain have all raised questions over setting targets for renewable power, such as solar and wind, as opposed to other energy forms.

The British government in a position paper said “any targets set should be neutral with respect to different low carbon technologies.”

A French note also states the need “to make use of all low-carbon technology: renewable energy, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage.”

Poland is heavily reliant on carbon-intensive coal, although it is also seeking to build nuclear plants to help improve its security of supply.

“The communication clearly focuses on renewable energy sources, disregarding coal, which is unreasonable given the expected growth in the use of this fuel around the world,” its comments state.

While coal is a carbon-intensive form of electricity generation, nuclear power generates power without emitting CO2.

Environmental groups, however, say the overall nuclear process is far from carbon-neutral.

They also say the huge vested interest of the nuclear industry - which supplies around 80 percent of electricity in France - is fighting hard against potential competition from other energy sources after the safety concerns raised by Japan’s nuclear catastrophe last year.

Germany in response said it was phasing out the energy source.

“The spectacular growth of renewables in recent years means that every European could soon benefit from clean and affordable energy,” Greenpeace EU energy policy director Frauke Thies said.

“The nuclear industry knows this and is fighting to keep renewables down.”

A Commission spokeswoman said the Commission did not comment on leaked documents.

The roadmap did not prioritise a specific energy source, but said renewables would “move centre stage,” she added. (Additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach in Brussels, Michael Kahn in Prague and Gabriela Baczynska in Warsaw; editing by James Jukwey)

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