Green energy is the solution to a number of challenges

Morten Helveg Petersen, Member and VP of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee at the European Parliament discusses the importance of green energy

We are facing 4 defining challenges of our time: climate change, Russia, economic growth and job creation. The good news is that all 4 challenges have the same solution, and it is green. In late 2016, the European Commission presented the Winter Package. The aim of this is to fight climate change, make the EU independent of Russian oil and gas, improve competitiveness and create jobs for European citizens. This proposal is exactly what we need to solve 4 of the defining challenges of our time. The European Commission deserves credit for the package, but I believe that we need to go further and faster.

Single market for energy

In the European Parliament, I am the Vice-President of the ITRE committee and the rapporteur for the revision of the ACER regulation. The revision seeks to give us more value for money, when it comes to renewable energy. Literally. A single market for energy will allow businesses and consumers to benefit from a smaller energy bill.

This, in turn, will make businesses more competitive and able to make new and better investments. In addition, consumers will be able to spend more on other goods and services – improving economic growth and generating jobs that are highly needed across our union.

By focusing on both renewable energy and energy efficiency, we can improve economic growth and create new jobs, while fighting climate change and limiting our reliance on Russia. However, we need to look at energy systems in their entirety. The most efficient and cost effective energy solutions are the ones that take a holistic approach, harnessing all opportunities and finding synergies between different technologies.

When the European Commission presented the Winter Package, I said that we face a unique opportunity as well as a significant challenge. We all have to coordinate, be willing to harness synergies and incorporate a systematic approach strategically across the various legislative dossiers of the Winter Package to achieve the best results. We need to overcome the false narrative and tired dichotomy between supporting European competiveness and delivering environmental and economic sustainability. We can and must deliver on both simultaneously.

Actually, the 2 only enhance each other. One example is Denmark, which has succeeded in decoupling economic growth from energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Three curves that have run parallel for decades and continue to do so in most of the world.

Unlike the most famous Danish stories, this is not a fairy tale. It is a story about working diligently on delivering a cost effective transition towards an economy largely based on renewables, coupled with a highly energy efficient building stock. Our energy intensive industries ensure that their industrial production processes harness waste heat and turn it into a common good, offering cheap heating to local communities, instead of literally throwing this valuable resource out of the window. Thus, it is possible to grow the economy and reduce the footprint. In other words, it is possible to meet all 4 challenges at once.

Along with colleagues from the European Parliament, it is my ambition that the EU follows the same path as Denmark. This will require higher ambitions and better coordination across the files constituting the Winter Package. If we are able and willing to come together, we are in a unique position to solve these fundamental challenges of our time. Even without the miracles of Hans Christian Andersen.

green energy
Image: © Nordic Energy Research 2012, Source: EEA/World Bank 2010

Morten Helveg Petersen (ALDE)

Member and VP of the Industry, Research, and Energy Committee

European Parliament

www.twitter.com/mortenhelveg

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