Today at the “Solar platform” test site in Almeria (Spain) the European Commission presented the state of play on its research programmes in alternative energy sources, including solar thermal, wave and geothermal energy. World energy consumption will double over the next 50 years, with Europe currently depending heavily on foreign energy sources. Currently, 41% of EU energy consumption is based on oil, followed by gas (23%), coal (15%), nuclear (15%) and only 6% is based on renewable energies. The threat of global climate change and the warnings about energy security will force Europe to drastically change and diversify its sources of supply, relying more and more on renewable energy. The EU has set out a strategy to double the share of renewable energy, from the present 6% to 12% by 2010. Within its 6th Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006) the EU will devote €810 million to renewable energy sources. The projects showcased today include “European Hot Dry Rock” using geothermal energy, “Wave Dragon” using wave energy, and “Sol Air” using solar thermal.
“Although fossil fuels will stay with us for a long time, we have to develop alternative energy sources to make Europe’s economic growth really sustainable,” said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. “Wave, geothermal and solar energy are promising but still represent a relatively small share of the overall energy balance. More research is needed to make them really cost-effective and encourage their take up alongside other alternative energy sources. Projects presented today by the Commission show this is feasible. More research coupled with other incentives, such as tax breaks and better access to capital, can boost their use and make Europe not only cleaner, but also more competitive.”
Many alternatives for Europe
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