Policy & Legislation

The development of renewable energy - particularly energy from wind, water, solar power and biomass - is a central aim of the European energy policy [1]. There are several reasons for this:

  • Renewable energy has an important role to play in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - a major community objective.
  • Increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy balance enhances sustainability. It also helps to improve the security of energy supply by reducing the community's growing dependence on imported energy sources.
  • Renewable energy sources are expected to be economically competitive with conventional energy sources in the medium to long term.

The need for support for renewable energy is clear. Several of the technologies, especially wind energy, but also small-scale hydro power, energy from biomass, and solar thermal applications, are economically viable and competitive. The others, especially photovoltaic (silicon module panels directly generating electricity from the sun’s light raher than heat), depend only on (how rapidly) increasing demand and thus production volume to achieve the economy of scale necessary for competitiveness with central generation.

The White Paper for a Community Strategy sets out a strategy to double the share of renewable energies in gross domestic energy consumption in the European Union by 2010 (from the present 6% to 12%) including a timetable of actions to achieve this objective in the form of an Action Plan. The main features of the Action Plan include internal market measures in the regulatory and fiscal spheres; reinforcement of policies which have a bearing on increased penetration by renewable energies; proposals for strengthening co-operation between member states; and support measures to facilitate investment and enhance dissemination and information in the renewables field.

At the EU summit of March 8th and 9th 2007 two new targets for the renewable energy sources (RES) sector were endorsed: a binding 20% target of RES in EU overall energy consumption by 2020 and a 10% minimum binding target for the share of biofuels in overall EU transport petrol and diesel consumption by 2020. Bioenergy will play an essential role in meeting these targets. Against this background, the substitution of natural gas by a renewable equivalent, e.g. Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG), is an interesting option to both reduce the use of fossil fuels and the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions, as well as from the point of view of security of supply.


  1. Innovation and technological development in energy - Energy for the future: Renewavle Energy Sources (http://ec.europa.eu/)