Het energiedebat: meer dan hernieuwbare energie alleen!

Door Anneleen Van Bossuyt op 29 januari 2016, over deze onderwerpen: Energie, Groei, jobs en competitiviteit, Onderzoek, Europees beleid, Europees Parlement

The European Parliament puts a strong focus on renewable energy. Do you support this policy choice?

Van Bossuyt: Renewable energy is indeed crucial, we need ambitious objectives. But they must be realistic. In that respect I think that the Parliament sometimes acts unreasonably. We cannot focus our attention on new infrastructure for renewable energy alone. The energy debate is very complex. We must take all factors into account.

Do you agree with some of your colleagues who want to make Europe’s energy 100% renewable by 2050?

Of course I would like 100% renewable energy in the EU, but it seems totally impossible. There is a large arsenal of existing energy plants in the European Union. First, let us utilize the most efficient power plants. Furthermore, the goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050 is very expensive. In order to reach it, massive investments in new wind turbines or solar panels would be needed in the short term. Who will foot the bill? Member States that do their best to keep expenditure under control? Or the hard-working citizens who are slowly leaving the economic recession behind?

Do you plead for an adjustment of the current objectives and a revision of the new 2030 goals?

No, not at all. We should definitely be ambitious. But we must also take into account the reality if we want to keep the ambition on a feasible level.You can compare it to someone who needs to lose 70lbs. You do not just force them to lose 70lbs in one month. That’s impossible, not motivating at all and above that very dangerous. You need a realistic path if you want the necessary efforts to be feasible in the long term.

You’ve mentioned that the debate in the European Parliament is too narrow. According to you, what are the other factors that have to be taken into account?

First, we must consider how we can be as efficient as possible with our energy. The cheapest kilowatt-hour is still the one we do not use. We can often save a lot of energy with simple measures. A good example of this is the revision of the energy labels. I fully endorse the ‘Energy Efficiency First’ principle: first save energy before we invest in all kinds of new energy sources.

How does your home region Flanders look at this principle?

Flanders is a densely populated region with little free space. This makes building wind turbines or large new installations quite difficult. Building wind farms on the sea is an option, but that again is very expensive. So it’s quite logical that Flanders first needs to focus on saving energy.

Renewable energy also requires an update of our national networks. What are the major challenges for the energy network?

A European network is necessary, if we want to use renewable energy efficiently. One of the biggest obstacles to the full deployment of renewable energy in the EU is the fluctuations in supply. We all know the example of a windless day in Denmark, which could be offset by the supply of solar power from Spain. This shows the great potential of a European energy network, but to make this possible we need proper connections. These are still missing links in crucial places, like between France and Spain. The European Union and its agencies should play a key role in improving these connections. They must detect and tackle bottlenecks.

If you want to connect all national networks into a super grid, do you also call for a European energy market?

Obviously, a European energy market is the ultimate goal. We must evolve as soon as possible to a real market model for the European energy market. I can only note that the various national energy markets cannot work optimally with all kinds of subsidies. Therefore national markets must be better aligned. In the first place we need more interconnectors, but we also have to make sure that technical issues are compatible. Think for example about market codes for grid support services or a system for sharing costs between cooperating operators on both sides of the border. I am not advocating for a European one-size-fits-all model, but for better cooperation between regions. We have to give the possibility to regions to cooperate where they can provide an added value. A good case is the cooperation between the countries bordering the North Sea.

Aren’t you afraid that companies will leave the EU because of stringent European rules?

The so called ‘carbon leakage’ indeed remains a hot topic in the EU that we cannot ignore. As said, I call for realism and a policy mix that takes into account all elements of the energy debate. So not only renewable energy. But we cannot use carbon leakage as an excuse to do nothing. The revolution in the energy sector boosts our economy, and fosters the development of new technologies. I see a successful future for the European energy market. But it must be one based on realism and not on dogmas.

Bron: EP Today

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