World leaders gathering in Copenhagen for the UN Summit to hammer out a deal on climate change and carbon mitigation will grab the headlines now . But beyond that meeting is an opportunity for manufacturers of low carbon technologies and equipment and builders of low carbon, green and energy efficient buildings and vehicles to prosper – in a new framework of government and institutional support.
Low carbon energy is an area where Britain an d Europe seek to take the lead, and indeed there are signs that it is making progress. A pre-Copenhagen progress report recently outlined in London by Dr Pierre Dechamps, energy advisor for the European Commission showed the potential and the financial support for low carbon industries after Copenhagen.
Dechamps told the London meeting that the European Union was committed to a 20 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 – rising to 30 per cent if there was an international agreement at Copenhagen. In addition, Europe had targets of a 20 per cent share of renewable energy by 2020 and a 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency.
The European Commission has now developed the Strategic Energy Technology Plan, which has the specific objective of developing the energy technologies which will allow for what Dechamps calls ‘a new industrial revolution’ and deliver competitive growth with low carbon emissions.
The Plan proposes joint integrated planning and European industrial initiatives across a range of low carbon technologies. These include a European Wind Initiative; a Solar Europe initiative; a Bio-Energy Europe initiative; and a European Electricity Grid initiative.
In addition, the Plan includes more ambitious technologies. These are: a European carbon capture, transport and storage initiative; a Sustainable Nuclear Fission initiative; Fuel Cells and Hydrogen; and Nuclear Fusion.
These are supported by the seventh EU Framework Programme for Research and development, which has an energy budget of 2,265 million euros and an environment budget of 1,886 million euros.
Major energy companies have started to outline how this secure-affordable and low carbon future could happen. Shell recently suggested a three pronged energy policy: firstly a step-change improvement in energy efficiency; secondly the need to boost ‘complementary’ energy sources; and thirdly, to deploy carbon capturer and storage technology to enable Europe to have clean power from coal (and perhaps later gas too).
This so-called ‘trilemma ‘ was first coined by energy giant Eon and was also the theme of a recent event in London hosted by Eon and the Daily Telegraph. There, a panel of experts including the CEO of Eon and a former Energy Minister looked at the Copenhagen agenda and how it might help achieve these three aims. All agreed that energy efficient technologies were the key.
So low carbon technology is at the heart of all three – technology to bring about energy efficiency, and so cut energy costs and reduce electricity generator’s and customer’s carbon footprint. The market for that technology is there, and there are opportunities for those making and deploying it, as well an those using it.
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