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The European Commission's strategic energy review package, published on 13 November, continues to provoke mixed reactions. Whilst welcoming the updated fifth Nuclear Illustrative Programme (PINC), Santiago San Antonio, director-general of FORATOM, the nuclear industry trade association, called for the EC to come up with more concrete measures and a plan of action to promote nuclear energy as a low-carbon energy solution. Further long-term investment in nuclear energy needs to be stimulated. On the financing of nuclear energy, the PINC calls for a balance between market investment decisions and regulation. The PINC also notes that if strategic investment in nuclear and renewables is taken rapidly, almost two-thirds of EU electricity generation could be low-carbon by the early 2020s.

As for Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E), Maartje van Putten, EU affairs representative for Nord Stream, welcomed the Commission's green paper on the TEN-E guidelines that restates the need for the EU to take a more proactive role in promoting strategic infrastructure projects. Nord Stream is currently recognised as an infrastructure project of the highest priority' and of European interest'. "The pipeline across the Baltic Sea will be the first concrete step to filling the current, and growing, import gap. As the most environmentally-friendly fossil fuel, gas is also important in helping the EU meet its climate change goals," said van Putten. She made no mention of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's recent statements that Russia may not pay for Nord Stream, if Europeans are not willing to contribute.

Welcoming the recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) was the European Builders Confederation (EBC) that brings together crafts and SMEs in the constructionasector. A main provision in the revised directive is the extension of its scope to all existing buildings and not just those over 1,000asquare metres. EBC President David Croft points out that, before being recast, 72% of the EU's built stock was not covered by the directive. To ensure real implementation of the EPBD, the EBC calls on member states to undertake actions such as information/training as well as financial incentives including reduced VAT rates on building renovation works.

Mariangiola Fabbri from WWF called for stricter standards for both existing and new buildings by 2015. She repeated that buildings account for 40% of EU final energy use. As other environmentalists, Fabbri also criticised the lack of ambition on energy efficiency measures with no mandatory energy saving target of 20% by 2020. More positively, Fabbri welcomed the Commission's statement of intent as regards renewable energy supergrids' connecting solar power from southern Europe and north Africa, offshore wind power and other renewable energy sources with the EU mainland grid. WWF, however, is concerned that new investments for infrastructures may keep Europe dependent on oil, gas and other conventional fuels.


Sylvia Maurer from the consumers' organisation BEUC welcomed the extension of the scope of the Energy Labelling Directive to energy-related products that do not consume energy but have an impact on energy efficiency. Maurer, however, regretted that the proposal does not maintain the layout of the well-known A-G label. "The A-G label is very well known and consumers successfully use it to buy the most efficient appliances," said Maurer. "It is not clear from the new legal text that there will be continuity with the old label."

For Fiona Riddoch from COGEN Europe, the communication on combinedaheat and power generation (CHP or cogeneration) is "thin" and lacks a sense of urgency. "An example is the surprising omission of an explanation of what the Commission expects the impact of [the Emission Trading Scheme] to be on cogeneration development," said Riddoch. "Despite the specific reference to cogeneration as a technology that should benefit from ETS in that directive, the industry is anticipating a negative effect on CHP-DH unless the original Commission proposal is amended," added Riddoch.
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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Nov 27, 2008

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