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Energy Sustainability

Sustainable energy

In 1987, the United Nations released the Brundtland Report, which defines sustainable development as "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" ([Our Common Future, Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development|http://www.un-documents.net/wced-ocf.htm], World Commission on Environment and Development, A/42/427, 1987). On this note, the definition of the sustainable energy will be the energy supply which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (compare the definition given by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_energy).
The definition points out two main aspects of the energy sustainability both energy supply and use. The first feature will be connected with the renewable energy generation and the second one implicates energy efficiencies. It means moving towards energy sustainability needs changes of both energy supply and use in the manner of the making accessible of the alternative energy sources and the awareness of consumption of the energy according to the stabilizing and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
The sustainable energy is one of the central challenges of our time, and was recognized in the Kyoto Protocol by the most economies in the world. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1998, defines a number of measures in achieving economies quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments, in order to promote sustainable development through implement and/or further elaborate policies and measures in accordance with its national circumstances, e.g. in the article 2:

  • enhancement of energy efficiency in relevant sectors of the national economy;
  • protection and enhancement of sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, taking into account its commitments under relevant international environmental agreements; promotion of sustainable forest management practices, afforestation and reforestation;
  • promotion of sustainable forms of agriculture in light of climate change considerations;
  • research on, and promotion, development and increased use of, new and renewable forms of energy, of carbon dioxide sequestration technologies and of advanced and innovative environmentally sound technologies;
  • progressive reduction or phasing out of market imperfections, fiscal incentives, tax and duty exemptions and subsidies in all greenhouse gas emitting sectors that run counter to the objective of the Convention and application of market instruments;
  • encouragement of appropriate reforms in relevant sectors aimed at promoting policies and measures which limit or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol;
  • measures to limit and/or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol in the transport sector;
  • limitation and/or reduction of methane emissions through recovery and use in waste management, as well as in the production, transport and distribution of energy;

(Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations, 1998, [http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.pdf|http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.pdf]).
The signatories of the Kyoto Protocol listed in the Annex of the Protocol are intended to implement this agreement nationally which includes also a sustainable energy policy.
According to the Kyoto protocol, the European countries created their own energy policy to meet the objectives of the Kyoto. In 2006, the European Commission committed a common European energy strategy.
The energy policies of the member states of the European Union can be found on the web site of the International Energy Agency http://www.iea.org/. The International Energy Agency published also a review of the energy policy of the European Union ([IEA Energy Policies Review|http://www.iea.org/W/bookshop/add.aspx?id=331] - The European Union 2008, 224 pages, ISBN 978-92-64-04337-4).
A further development of renewable energies and enhancing energy efficiency technologies is vital for our future and for a sustainable development.

European energy policy

The European countries created their own common strategy in the so called Green Paper in order to develop a common energy policy of the Member States. (The Green Paper "A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy", Commission of the European Communities, Brussels, 8.3.2006, Com (2006) 105, [http://www.energy.eu/directives/2006_03_08_gp_document_en.pdf|http://www.energy.eu/directives/2006_03_08_gp_document_en.pdf]). The European Council used in 2007 the Green Paper's recommendations as a basis for a new European energy policy (COM (2007) 1 final, Communication from the commission to the European Council and the European Parliament "An Energy Policy For Europe", Brussels, 10.1.2007).
In the Green Paper, the Commission asks the Member States to do everything in their power to implement a European energy policy built on three core objectives:

  • sustainability - to actively combat climate change by promoting renewable energy sources and energy efficiency;
  • competitiveness - to improve the efficiency of the European energy grid by creating a truly competitive internal energy market;
  • security of supply - to better coordinate the EU's supply of and demand for energy within an international context.

The green paper confirmed the three energy policy objectives of the EU: sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply. It puts forward concrete proposals in six priority areas for implementing a European energy policy - from the completion of the internal market through to the implementation of a common external energy policy:

  • Complete the internal electricity and gas markets,
  • Security of supply and solidarity among Member States,
  • Sustainable, efficient and diverse energy mix,
  • Tackling climate change,
  • A strategic energy technology plan,
  • A coherent external energy policy.

The Commission's staff working document, Summary Report on the Analysis of the Debate on the Green Paper "A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy" from 16.11.2006 summarizes the responses to the green paper and gives further information about the process and results of the green paper consultations ([http://ec.europa.eu/energy/strategies/2006/doc/sec_2006_1500.pdf|http://ec.europa.eu/energy/strategies/2006/doc/sec_2006_1500.pdf]).
This Document points out in chapter 2.4 "Sustainable development" that sustainability should be the key issue for energy policy and suggests further engagements about the climate change, renewable energy sources, energy efficiency measures, reducing emission measures. Therefore, long-term targets and action plans for renewables and energy efficiency need to be defined for the Member States.
With the action plan on energy efficiency, the Commission communicated a framework for targeted actions for both energy consumption and energy supply (Communication from the Commission, Action Plan for Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential; Brussels, 19.10.2006 COM(2006)545 final - [http://ec.europa.eu/energy/action_plan_energy_efficiency/doc/com_2006_0545_en.pdf|http://ec.europa.eu/energy/action_plan_energy_efficiency/doc/com_2006_0545_en.pdf]). The action plan contents the following polices and measures (see also the proposed measures in the annex of the action plan):

  • Dynamic energy performance requirements for energy-using products, buildings and energy services
  • Making products more energy efficient - Appliance and equipment labeling and minimum energy performance standards (priority action),
  • Developing services for energy end-use efficiency (see also Directive on Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services (2006/32/EC)),
  • Making buildings more energy efficient - Building performance requirements and very low energy buildings ("passive houses") (priority action),
  • Improving energy transformation
  • Making power generation and distribution more efficient") (priority action),
  • Moving on transport
  • Achieving fuel efficiency of cars (priority action),
  • Financing energy efficiency, economic incentives and energy pricing
  • Facilitating appropriate financing of energy efficiency investments for small and medium enterprises and Energy Service Companies (priority action),
  • Spurring energy efficiency in the new Member States (priority action),
  • A coherent use of taxation (priority action),
  • Changing energy behaviour
  • Raising energy efficiency awareness (priority action),
  • Energy efficiency in built-up areas (priority action),
  • International partnerships
  • Foster energy efficiency worldwide (priority action),

The measures of the Action Plan and in its annex were expected to effect in the succeeding three to six years and will be assessed in the framework of the regular Strategic European Energy Reviews. A first review was taken place in 2009 during the implementation of the Action Plan.
In 2007, the European Council recognized (Brussels, on 8/9 March 2007) a binding target of a 20% share of renewable energies in the overall EU energy consumption by 2020 including a 10% binding minimum target to be achieved by all Member States for the share of biofuels in overall EU transport petrol and diesel consumption in order to develop an energy sustainability ([http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ec/93135.pdf|http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ec/93135.pdf]). On 17 December 2008, the European Parliament gave its backing to the EU's Climate Change Package, which aims to ensure that the EU will achieve its climate targets by 2020: a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, and a 20% share for renewables in the EU energy mix.
The Directive 2009/28/EC of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC ([http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:140:0016:0062:en:pdf|http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:140:0016:0062:en:pdf]) establishes a common framework for the use of energy from renewable sources in order to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to promote cleaner transport. The Directive is part of a package of energy and climate change legislation which provides a framework for Community targets for greenhouse gas emission savings. It sets mandatory national targets for the overall share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy and for the share of energy from renewable sources in transport. It lays down rules relating to statistical transfers between Member States, joint projects between Member States and with third countries, guarantees of origin, administrative procedures, information and training, and access to the electricity grid for energy from renewable sources. It establishes sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids. (Article 1). A brief summary of the directive is given below:

  • National targets and measures for the use of energy from renewable sources

Each Member State has a target calculated according to the share of energy from renewable sources in its gross final consumption for 2020. This target is in line with the overall '20-20-20' goal for the Community. Each Member State should promote and encourage energy efficiency and energy saving.
Each Member State must ensure that the share of energy from renewable sources in all forms of transport in 2020 is at least 10 % of the final consumption of energy in transport in that Member State.

  • National renewable energy action plans

The Member States have to implement a national action plan which set the share of energy from renewable sources consumed in transport, as well as in the production of electricity and heating, for 2020. These action plans must take into account the effects of other energy efficiency measures on final energy consumption and should be notified to Commission by 30 June 2010. These plans will also establish procedures for the reform of planning and pricing schemes and access to electricity networks, promoting energy from renewable sources.
The Commission has to send to the European Parliament the national renewable energy action plans and the forecast documents in the form as made public on the transparency platform, as well as any recommendation.

  • Cooperation between Member States

Member States can make for the statistical transfer of a specified amount of energy from renewable sources from one Member State to another Member State, and set up joint projects concerning the production of electricity, heating or cooling from renewable sources.
It is also possible Member States cooperate with third countries. The following conditions must be met:

  • the electricity must be consumed in the Community;
  • the electricity must be produced by a newly constructed installation (after June 2009);
  • the quantity of electricity produced and exported must not benefit from any other support.
  • Information and training

Member States must ensure that information on support measures is made available to all relevant actors, such as consumers, builders, installers, architects, and suppliers of heating, cooling and electricity equipment and systems and of vehicles compatible with the use of energy from renewable sources.
Member States have to develop suitable information, awareness-raising, guidance or training programmes in order to inform citizens of the benefits and practicalities of developing and using energy from renewable sources (with the participation of local and regional authorities).

  • Guarantees of origin of electricity, heating and cooling produced from renewable energy sources

Each Member State must be able to guarantee the origin of electricity, heating and cooling produced from renewable energy sources. The information contained in these guarantees of origin is of the standard size of 1 MWh and should be recognised in all Member States. It may also be used to provide consumers with information on the composition of the energy mix.

  • Access to and operation of the grids

Member States should provide transmission and distribution grid infrastructure, intelligent networks, storage facilities and the electricity system, in order to allow the secure operation of the electricity system as it accommodates the further development of electricity production from renewable energy sources, including interconnection between countries. To achieve it, they must:

  • ensure that operators guarantee the transport and distribution of electricity from renewable sources;
  • provide for priority access or guaranteed access to the grid-system of electricity produced from renewable energy sources
  • Sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids

The Directive takes into account energy from biofuels and bioliquids only if they fulfil the sustainability criteria set out in paragraphs 2 to 6 of this Directive. The bioliquds should contribute to a reduction of at least 35 % of greenhouse gas emissions in order to be taken into account. From 1 January 2017, their share in greenhouse gas emissions savings should be increased to 50 %. From 1 January 2018 that greenhouse gas emission saving shall be at least 60 % for biofuels and bioliquids produced in installations in which production started on or after 1 January 2017.
Biofuels and bioliquids are produced using raw materials coming from outside or within the Community, and they should not be produced using raw materials from land with high biodiversity value or with high carbon stock. To benefit from financial support, they must be qualified as "sustainable" in accordance with the criteria of this Directive.
The greenhouse gas emission saving from the use of biofuel and bioliquids must be calculated as Annex V of this Directive.

  • Reporting by the Member States

Each Member State have to submit a report to the Commission on progress in the promotion and use of energy from renewable sources by 31 December 2011, and every two years thereafter.

  • Transparency platform

The Commission has to establish a platform for the publication of a range of documents about renewable energy.
These include

  • the national action plans
  • Emissions from cultivation in Member States (Article 19 (2)
  • Implementation of the biofuels/bioliquids sustainability criteria
  • The Commission's report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid and gaseous biomass sources in electricity, heating and cooling
  • Member States' forecast documents, forecasting expected transfers of shares of renewable energy (import needs and export availability) as statistical transfers or joint projects (due by December 2009, all received by February 2010). 
  • the Commission's template for the national renewable energy action plans
  • Member States offers and requests for statistical transfers/joint projects and the details of those exchanges that occur
  • Member States' progress reports (first due by December 2011)
  • The Commission's progress reports (first due by December 2012).

As each of these documents is produced, it will appear on the site (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/transparency_platform/action_plan_en.htm).
The important EU directives and proposals related to energy:
[C(2009) 5174|http://www.energy.eu/directives/nat-reap.pdf] National RE Action Plans under Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.
2009/28/EC On the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.
COM(2006) 105 final Green paper - A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy.
SEC(2006) 317/2 Green paper Annex - What is at stake, a background document.
[COM(2008) 30 final|http://www.energy.eu/directives/com2008_0030en01.pdf] 20 20 by 2020 Europe's climate change opportunity.
C(2006) 6817 Establishing harmonised efficiency reference values for separate production of electricity and heat.
2004/8/EC On the promotion of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market.
2005/32/EC A framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-using products.
[2006/32/EC|http://www.energy.eu/directives/l_11420060427en00640085.pdf] On energy end-use efficiency and energy services.
98/11/EC Implementing Council Directive 92/75/EEC with regard to energy labelling of household lamps.
106/2008 On a Community energy-efficiency labelling programme for office equipment.
2002/91/EC On the energy performance of buildings.

Energy independence and security

Energy security means the continuous availability of energy at affordable prices with a passable degree of energy service quality. It also contents accessing of energy resources, producing and converting of energy as well as providing to the people who need.
Security of energy supply is a key issue facing both developed and developing economies could have potential disruptions and their major environmental and economic consequences. To ensure energy security and meet long-term world energy needs, it necessitates global energy landscape provides sufficient energy resources and varied forms of indigenous energy resources.
Energy security can also be enhanced through energy conservation and efficiency measures. Reducing energy use will reduce the dependence of the economies on energy provision and imports. Enhancing efficiency in energy use not only improves energy security; it also helps greatly to mitigate emissions.
The oil price is the market leader in energy prices. Gas and coal, because of the competition will be fixed accordingly. A moderate price increase, together with a continuous improvement in energy efficiency would mean that oil prices will not seriously impact the global economy than now.
Energy security concerns the actors of all world economies. A mid-term and long-term energy security can be enhanced:

  • Diversifying sources of supply and forms of energy used.
  • Adequacy and security of the energy provision infrastructure.
  • Increasing energy independence by fostering and developing local resources.
  • Switching to more sustainable energy sources in the near future.
  • Deployment of renewable technologies to tap alternative sources of electric power as well as displacing electricity demand through direct heat production.
  • Substitution of oil with renewable biofuels and other regenerative energy sources for mobility.
  • Establishing international cooperation and agreements to support international energy trading relationships, both between governments or between companies.
  • Investing in and transferring energy and environmental technology to developing countries.
  • Enhancing and increasing national and regional strategic reserves of crude oil and its products.
  • Considering the environmental challenges and protection.


Crude oil and its products are the most versatile and fulfill every requirement of energy provision, in particular of transportation. The other fossil fuels, coal and natural gas, are well suited for electricity generation and for the production of heat. Coal used more and more in power plants, requires relatively expensive clean technologies, and treatment for liquefaction and gasification to make it more versatile. Natural gas also requires expensive and sensitive infrastructure, and special treatment to make it suitable for transportation. The Hydropower, renewable resources and nuclear energy have limited use beyond electricity production. Renewable energies replace conventional fuels in four distinct sectors, namely power generation, hot water and space heating, transport fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy.
The adequacy and security of the energy provision infrastructure are the premise of the energy security. The energy infrastructure includes physical infrastructure (exploration, development and production of energy), transformation of energy (electric power generation and oil refining), transmission and distribution of energy (electric power transmission lines and electricity grids as well as oil and gas pipelines) and storage of energy products. The Consumers are gradually opting for energy supplied by grid (electricity and gas), which enables energy provision security, reduces costs, and fosters regional cooperation. For this reason, the countries invest in redundant facilities to enhance supply security as well as broadening and maintenance of the transportation modes (grids, pipelines, ports, ships).
The regional cooperation and the expansion of regional electricity grids and network allow enhancing the energy security for consumers. Energy security will be independent from the availability of local resources and geo-political considerations. It is becoming increasingly dependent on markets and competition and on the security of regional networks.
Interconnection of neighboring national grids (electricity and gas networks) into regional grids greatly enhances energy security. It also reduces the cost of supply by taking advantage of differences in peak demand and by allowing a reduction in standby power and reserve generating capacity and the use of cheaper resources
For greater benefits for energy security, energy generation and use should be made more compatible with the aims of sustainable development through better containment of emissions and climate protection.
Deployment of renewable technologies is essential to secure the energy provision, as providing alternative sources of electric power as well as covering the part of the electricity demand through direct heat supply. Of all renewables, solar thermal energy is considered to be practically unlimited in the long-term. The technologies are hydropower, wind power, biomass power, solar photo voltaic (grid-connected), concentrating solar thermal power, geothermal power and ocean (tidal) power for the power generation, biomass, solar collectors for hot water/space and geothermal heating for heating as well as ethanol and biodiesel for transportation.
Use of oil for mobility will increase in all countries, as the transport fleet grows and uses exceed improvements in transport efficiency, predominantly in aviation. An interruption in oil supply, however temporary, could cause major disruption to the transport sector and to the world economy.
An important aspect of the security is the liberalization of energy markets in importing countries in order to obtain an easier and more secure transportation of oil and gas from exporting countries. Nonetheless, the long-term security of supplies to final consumers remains a government responsibility. In the course of this, the enhancing of the security of the oil and gas market can be achieved through the cooperation of the producers and companies of importing countries.
International cooperation and agreements between governments or between companies help to foster energy investments and improve energy security applying sustainable energy policies globally.
The enabling developing countries to unlock more energy supplies will enhance the availability of global supplies. The Investing in and transferring energy and environmental technology to developing countries allow these countries increase the efficiency of energy use and improve environmental protection.
The amount of the national and regional strategic reserves of crude oil and its products is another aspect of the energy security. The oil companies held oil stocks for operational purposes whereas the authorities against increase in demand and possible disruptions in imports. The oil companies usually hold stocks that account for about 60 days of consumption. The European Union requires its members (also IEA members) to hold stocks equivalent to at least 90 days of consumption.
The energy production and appliance by means of fossil fuels have negative environmental impacts, which have a direct effect on the development of energy systems and energy security. The environmental impact of those energy generation and consumption occur at the local, regional, and global levels and must be dealt with to achieve sustainable development. This requires promoting clean energy technologies, pursuing energy efficiency, developing renewable forms of energy.
European energy security
The energy security play a central role in the European common energy strategy presented in the Green Paper "A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy", Commission of the European Communities, Brussels, 8.3.2006, Com (2006) 105, [http://www.energy.eu/directives/2006_03_08_gp_document_en.pdf|http://www.energy.eu/directives/2006_03_08_gp_document_en.pdf]).
The Green Paper contains concrete proposals in six priority areas for implementing a European energy policy; these proposals should help Europe to ensure a supply of energy which is secure, competitive and sustainable:
Energy for growth and jobs in Europe: completing the internal European electricity and gas markets
Opening up the internal gas and electricity markets create fair competition between companies at European level and improve the security and competitiveness of the energy supply in Europe. The following fields are covered in the Green Paper:

  • A European grid (harmonized access to national grids);
  • A priority interconnection plan;
  • Investment in generation capacity;
  • A more clear-cut unbundling of activities (to distinguish clearly between those which generate and those which transmit and distribute gas and electricity);
  • Boosting the competitiveness of European industry (by securing the availability of energy at affordable prices).

An Internal Energy Market that guarantees security of supply: solidarity between Member States
Liberalized and competitive markets enhance security of supply. The EU must establish effective mechanisms to create emergency stocks and foster solidarity to avoid energy supply crises. The development of smart electricity networks, demand management and distributed energy generation could all help at times of sudden shortage. The paper describes two core issues:

  • Enhancing security of supply in the internal market
  • Rethinking the EU's approach to emergency oil and gas stocks and preventing disruptions

Tackling security and competitiveness of energy supply: towards a more sustainable, efficient and diverse energy mix
Each Member State and energy company chooses its own energy mix from the sources available. These choices are important to Europe's energy security and could be coordinated at European level by means of a Strategic EU Energy Review. This Review would take into account the different energy sources available and their impact on the sustainability, competitiveness and security of energy in the EU. The Review would also serve as a basis for a transparent and objective debate on the role of nuclear energy in Europe and for formulating strategic objectives for the overall EU energy mix.
An integrated approach to tackling climate change
The fostering of the renewables and energy efficiency, besides tackling climate change, will contribute to security of energy supply and help limit the EU's growing dependence on imported energy with

  • Making more from less: leading on energy efficiency
  • Increasing the use of renewable energy sources
  • Carbon capture and geological storage

Encouraging innovation: a strategic European energy technology plan
The security of supply, sustainability and competitiveness of Europe's energy depends to a large extent on the development and deployment of new energy technologies. Research into energy efficiency and renewable energies has contributed significantly to enabling the EU to face the energy challenges of the coming years.
Towards a coherent external energy policy
International dialogue with the EU's energy partners is essential in ensuring the security of supply, competitiveness and sustainability of energy in Europe. An external energy policy must enable the EU to respond with one voice to the energy challenges of the coming years.
The Green Paper puts forward a number of concrete proposals to meet the three objectives, i.e. sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply, in which the development of a European grid is a central issue. The paper recommends also establishing an appropriately resourced strategic energy technology plan to accelerate the development of promising energy technologies and to create the conditions to bring such technologies efficiently and effectively to the EU and the world markets. The strategic energy technology plan published in 2009 (Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Investing in the Development of Low Carbon Technologies (SET-Plan) , COM(2009) 519 final) and (Commission staff working document - Accompanying document to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on Investing in the Development of Low Carbon Technologies (SET-Plan) - A technology roadmap, SEC/2009/1295 final). The Commission staff working document (SEC/2009/1295 final) specifies the objective of the European Industrial Initiative on electricity grid as

  • enabling the transmission and distribution of up to 35% of electricity from dispersed and concentrated renewable sources by 2020 and a completely decarbonized electricity production by 2050
  • integration further national networks into a market-based truly pan-European network, to guarantee a high quality of electricity supply to all customers and to engage them as active participants in energy efficiency
  • anticipating new developments such as the electrification of transport.

The industrial sector objective is reducing of capital and operational expenditure for the operation of the networks while fulfilling the objectives of a high-quality, low-carbon, pan-European, market based electricity system.
The electricity grid roadmap 2010-2020 has the following technology objectives (see the next picture):

  • developing and validating advanced network
  • preparing the long-term evolution of electricity
  • engaging the active participation of customers in energy markets and energy
  • elaborating and testing innovative market







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