Why EU renewable energy figures are misleading: Europe requires 150% renewable energy to become fossil-free

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How much renewable energy is the EU really getting? (photo Europe by Satellite)

How much renewable energy is the EU really getting? (photo Europe by Satellite)

The EU is confident it will reach its target of 20% renewable energy by 2020. But according to Martien Visser, professor at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen (The Netherlands), this 20% is in reality more like 14%. This is because a large part of our energy consumption is simply ignored in the calculations for renewable energy. “Even with 100% renewables, we would still need a lot of fossil fuels”, Visser notes.

The EU has a target of 20% renewable energy in 2020. In 2014, 16% was reached and thus, it has been concluded that the EU is well on its way to achieve the target. After all, thousands of wind turbines are being built in our countryside and millions of solar panels are being installed on our rooftops.

I assume that many readers of Energy Post are aware of the 16% level that we are supposed to have reached. But I wonder whether they have ever tried to find out how this percentage was calculated? I did – and it turned out to be far from straightforward.

The official definition of the percentage of renewable energy is: “The share of energy from renewable sources shall be calculated as the gross final consumption of energy from renewable sources divided by the gross final consumption of energy from all energy sources, expressed as a percentage” (Directive 2009/28/EG, 23 april 2009).

This sounds easy. Our total energy usage, the gross final consumption of energy can be calculated by taking the production of energy in EU28, adding the energy imports and subtracting the energy exports. Thanks to Eurostat, these data are public and it can be concluded that the EU-28 currently uses about 1600 Mtoe/yr (million tons of oil equivalent) to maintain its prosperity. Incidentally, this number neglects the energy which is required to create the products (e.g. in China) that are imported by the EU-28.

Although many people assume that renewable energy is based on wind turbines and solar panels, the reality is quite different. In the EU, more than 60% of all renewable energy comes from various forms of biomass

However, as it turns out, this 1600 Mtoe is not the denominator in the directive since several areas of energy usage are excluded. Firstly, the conversion losses in the energy sector, like in power production, are not taken into account. One could argue that this is justified since a fully renewable world would not need fossil power production any more, although the increasing amounts of wind and solar power will also have conversion losses.

Secondly, the usage of fuel oil for international shipping is not taken into account. Thirdly, energy consumption for feedstocks are excluded. The result: the “gross final consumption of energy” used to calculate the percentage of renewable energy equals only 1100 Mtoe.

A denominator of 1100 Mtoe results in an almost 50% higher percentage of renewable energy than a denominator of 1600 Mtoe. This implies that a society with 100% renewable energy, according to this definition, would still require a substantial amount of fossil fuels.

A nice idea isn’t it, to think that you are contributing to the EU-28 targets on renewable energy when you will be having a barbecue and drinking beer with your friends this summer

Special treatment

Let’s switch to the nominator of the equation. Here we also find some strange results.

There are many forms of renewable energy and these are reported by the national statistical offices in the member states, and subsequently summarized by Eurostat. Although many people assume that renewable energy is based on wind turbines and solar panels, the reality is quite different. In the EU, more than 60% of all renewable energy comes from various forms of biomass. Another 17% comes from hydropower in the mountainous regions.

Visit by Corina Creţu, Member of the EC, to the Netherlands

the bright picture of renewable energy in the EU…

A very important application of biomass in the EU is wood in households for wood stoves and open fire places. The efficiency of these applications may be 50% or even lower. Nevertheless, all wood is taken into account as renewable energy. In European countries with a lot of wood combustion in households, this significantly improves the national renewable percentage. Currently, the percentage of renewable energy in the EU is 16%, but taking into account an efficiency of 50% would lower the EU-28 renewable percentage to 14.2%.

EU CAPITAL MAYORS CONFERENCE WITH EU COMMISSIONER CORINA CRETU IN AMSTERDAM

… or is there something askew? (photos Europe by Satellite)

For other uses of biomass, efficiency is taken into account. The exception is biomass used as a feedstock; this is not taken into account at all. The lesson is that if we want to have a high percentage of renewable energy, we should burn biomass preferentially at home, and we should certainly not use it as feedstock. In other words: forget cascading biomass, burn it!

Heat pumps get special treatment as well. I always thought that heat pumps are a way to reduce energy consumption. This may be true, but there is another aspect. While writing this article at home, the sun is shining through my window. The heating is off, although it is rather cold outside. But this solar energy does not count as renewable energy.

My neighbour, however, has no window towards the sun and has to use a heat pump to bring the solar heat into his house. This solar heat is seen as renewable energy. According to the directive: “Thermal energy generated by passive energy systems, under which lower energy consumption is achieved passively through building design or from heat generated by energy from non-renewable sources, shall not be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph 1(b)”. Good lobbying by the heat pump industry, I presume.

While the definition by the EU directive resulted in an official share of 5.5% renewable energy, in reality less than 3% of Dutch energy consumption is covered

The statistics for renewable energy go into significant detail and nothing seems to be forgotten. One of the small categories is charcoal, which adds 128 ktoe to the EU-28 target. For environmental reasons, one may have some doubts about its sustainability. But the contribution to renewable energy nevertheless equals 250 3MW wind turbines of 100 meters each, positioned in a windy region in Northern Germany. A nice idea isn’t it, to think that you are contributing to the EU-28 targets on renewable energy when you will be having a barbecue and drinking beer with your friends this summer.

The long goodbye

In an earlier article I wrote in Dutch, I made similar calculations for my home country, the Netherlands. The Netherlands is densely populated, it does not have many forests and is flat. Thus, the Dutch are having major troubles to reach significant amounts of renewable energy. According to the official statistics, it achieved only 5.5% in 2014. And in 2015 and 2016, it won’t be much better.

Dutch energy consumption, according to the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), is 4000 PJ (petajoule) . But, according to the directive just 2100 PJ needed to be taken into account to calculate its official percentage of renewable energy. The Netherlands produced 115 PJ of renewable energy:  mainly biomass, waste and wind. Thus, while the definition by the EU directive resulted in an official percentage of 5.5%, in reality less than 3% of Dutch energy consumption is covered.

Martien Visser - graph

In the coming years, the percentage of renewable energy will need to increase significantly, both in the Netherlands and in the EU. For 2030, the EU has a target of 27% renewable energy, an increase by 70% compared to the current percentage. If we want to achieve this by wind and solar only, it would imply an increase by more than 400% compared to today. In reality, maybe with the exception of hydropower, all sources will have to contribute.

But in whatever way we will achieve the target, the real lesson of this exercise is that if we want to say goodbye to fossil energy, we have a long way to go. Because even in a 100% renewable society, as defined by the directive, we will still need lots of it.

Editor’s Note

Martien Visser (b.m.visser@pl.hanze.nl) is professor Energy Transition and Grid Integration at Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Hanzehogeschool) Groningen.  

 

Comments

  1. S. Herb says

    Useful article. The sun shining in the window argument is interesting, but this should probably be subsumed under building efficiency rather than fuel.

    • Martien Visser says

      I agree, and this is indeed the case. I was however a bit surprised to find out that this (efficiency) argument is not used for heat pumps.

      I remember an exercise where we Identified optimal measures to significantly increase the percentage of renewable energy in the city of Groningen. During that exercise, we actually found that the effect of isolating houses, heated by heat pumps, resulted in a substantial reduction in the percentage of renewables of the city of Groningen.

      • Math Geurts says

        Maybe more important. What about PV behind the meter? If it is considered to be an energy efficiency improvement or “energy demand reduction” it can not be considered to be “renewable energy production” at the same time.

  2. Tilleul says

    Europe had made commitment to a 20-20-20 target : 20% reduction of greenhouse gases compared to 1990, 20% renewable and 20% increase of energy efficiency. The renewable directive is here to promote… renewables, not to promote energy efficiency, not to promote reduction of greenhouse gas. You can’t take one piece of legislative document and then extrapolate without checking to see if it does not contradict with other goals sets by other directives like energy efficiency directive or the Kyoto protocol. What you describe are very well known problems which are not coming from the renewable binding target but rather on the fact that the energy efficiency target is non-binding.

    • Martien Visser says

      It is not only energy efficiency. There are also important energy consumng sectors omitted: feedstock and (international) shipping. I have tried to demonstrate that, due to this definition, we will still need a lot of fossil fuels, even in a “100% renewable society”. I guess that for many readers, that is a surprise.
      Furthermore, due to this definition, using biomass to replace fossil fuels in feedstock (“cascading”), or using renewable energy to replace heavy fuel oil (see “Seablind”) in shipping, is not part of the equition and thus unattractive for member states, striving for a high percentage of renewable energy.

      • Math Geurts says

        Conclusion: climate policy is focussed to much on energy in general and power in particular?

      • Mark Roest says

        Lots of progress is being made on Carbon capture for conversion to liquid feedstocks; they’ve identified 13 of high commercial interest. Once the issue is generally recognized in academic circles, we should be able to model the economy in sufficient detail to identify where we should apply each technology to convert waste to inputs for the next product in the circle.

  3. says

    Another sobering fact is that bioenergy is not renewable with respect to ocean acidification. The CO2 emissions from the combustion of biomass, biofuels, and biogas are absorbed by surface seawater in the same manner as the carbon dioxide effluents from fossil fuel usage. When gauged by the CO2-induced pH decline of the world’s oceans, therefore, Germany’s primary energy sources currently qualify as only 4.4% decarbonized after nuclear power has been deducted, even though a third of the country’s electricity is already being generated by renewable energy technologies.

    • says

      I’m not sure I agree. While I am not a fan of biomass or crop-based biofuels (biogas from AD is ok in my opinion), if the feedstock is harvested sustainably (a big if in some countries) then the net carbon is zero and there should be no impact of ocean acidification. As we phase out fossil fuels the carbon concentrations should start to decrease.

      • says

        When CO2 from biomass combustion is absorbed by the oceans and converted to carbonic acid, it leaves the terrestrial carbon cycle upon which your assumptions on zero net carbon are based. Ocean acidification persists for thousands of years. The source of the atmospheric carbon dioxide is not differentiated by the process of seawater absorption. Instead, CO2 from all types of combustion proportionately contribute to altering ocean chemistry.

        • says

          I’m sorry, that still doesn’t make sense. CO2 is CO2, doesn’t matter where it comes from. What governs absorption of CO2 into seawater is CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. If my biomass emissions are in balance with reabsorption of CO2 into vegetation by new growth, then atmospheric CO2 concentrations have not increased and ocean acidification is stable.

          Of course, the goal is to revert acidification by eliminating fossil fuel combustion which is what is increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

          • says

            Your fundamental premise that CO2 emissions from biogenic energy are in balance with reabsorption of CO2 into vegetation by new growth does not hold true in a warming world with altered vegetation patterns and yearly forest cover decline over an expanse the size of Greece. You have implied that the rise of CO2 concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere is due entirely to fossil fuel usage. By contrast, a good deal of evidence exists that some of that increase is being caused by carbon dioxide that has been emitted by biomass combustion. This quantity of CO2 is lost for a prolonged duration to organic carbon cycles. During that interval, nearly a third of the CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans rather than by terrestrial plant life. A part of the pH decline in surface seawater can therefore be traced to biomass combustion, correspondingly lowering the decarbonization rating of countries that employ biogenic fuels.

            • says

              You may be right. Is there quantitative data that supports this? Any references?

              In any case, given the current trajectory I think the only way we will meet targets is through creating carbon sinks via reforestation and aforestation. I don’t see how biomass is consistent with this and may need to be phased out.

              • says

                A good deal of evidence was summarized in 2003 by the FAO in the report “Forest and climate change” (ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/011/ac836e/ac836e00.pdf). Particular researchers had confirmed that trees were shedding CO2 during prolonged heat waves, a phenomenon confirmed in the report: “Several bio-climatic models indicate that the ecosystems’ absorption capacity is approaching its upper limit and should diminish in the future, possibly even reversing direction within 50 to 150 years, with forests becoming a net source of CO2. Indeed, global warming could cause an increase in heterotrophic respiration and the decomposition of organic matter, and a simultaneous decrease of the sink effectiveness, thereby transforming the forestry ecosystems into a net source of CO2″. The ability of forest vegetation to sequester carbon dioxide will therefore continue to decline as global temperatures rise. If forestry ecosystems ultimately become net sources of CO2, the acidification of the oceans could accelerate dramatically.

    • Jens says

      Jeffrey Michel

      Gen. 2 biofuels are more than GHG neutral because not only does it use excess inedible biomass or organic municipal waste it also decomposes the biodegradable materials without oozing methane.

      The net limitation of GHG can be improved by selecting crops that produce more biomaterials and naturally store more carbon in the soil.

      There has just been a huge breakthrough at KU where they have succeeded with bringing the decomposition speed of biomaterials up by a factor 100.

      Your speculation that CO2 from biofuels acts just the same as any other source of CO2 is fundamentally misunderstood because It replaces net addition to the troposphere. Your assumption that the acidic rise in the oceans will last for thousands of years is also wrong. Quite to the contrary oceans sediment significant amounts of carbon every year.

      The added CO2 in the atmosphere from biomass combustion is mainly related to deforestation and the spreading of agriculture and the invention of the ploug that oxygenize stored carbon in the soil. This process is reversible and should be reversed and could be reversed better with biofuels as an important enabler.

      Only problem with biofuels really is cost where a significant breakthrough is required. Novozymes targeted biofuels to be competitive with fossil fuels at a crude oil price at $100/barrel. With the new methods and still cheaper enzymes and processing the cost points seems heading the right way.

      As for your concerns about a warming world not being able to capture as much CO2 as today I think you should do a reality check. 2/3 of the surface is sea and the bioactivity in sea is factors higher than on land.

  4. says

    What are the conversion losses for wind and solar? As I understand it the contribution from wind and solar is based on energy delivered to the grid at the meter – final energy after losses (grid losses don’t count presumably). This is in contrast to the primary energy metrics applied to fossil fuels which do not include conversion losses.

    But, I agree with the overall point that the correct metric should include a line-by-line accounting of conversion losses on both sides of the carbon ledger. I find the accounting for energy full of pitfalls and subject to all kinds of manipulation.

    Ultimately, what counts is the global aggregate. From that perspective what’s important is that for each country, whichever way that metric is calculated, it is done so consistently and that the metric (renewable penetration) is rising rapidly.

    • Martien Visser says

      Current losses of wind and solar are low and can probably be neglected. However, these losses will become substantial if wind and solar will grow significantly and lengthy periods of overproduction will occur.

      • says

        Can you be more specific? What are these mysterious losses? As I said solar and wind are measured at the grid connect. Any losses are behind the meter. And if they are insignificant now on a proportional basis, why would they become significant with greater penetration?

        • Math Geurts says

          The losses caused by (future) storage basically have to be considered as losses caused by solar and wind.

        • Martien Visser says

          Losses will increase when the combined power production by wind and solar becomes higher than market demand. The overproduction of power will have to be transported to other regions in Europe, be stored, be converted to other forms of energy, e.g. hydrogen, or may even be destroyed.

          • Helmut Frik says

            Still the losses are then not conversion losses (like in the power plant the power of electricity by pumps, coal mills etc.) but transportation losses and storage losses, as they exist for fossile fuels too at other parts of the calculation.
            Depending on size and dimensioning of the grid, storages might not be neeeded at all (at least not as any kind of “battery” – it might be enough to halt or increase hydropower station with large storages. Wind and solar become less variable the larger area a grid includes.
            Excess production will be used for many kinds of raw maerial production – aluminum, cement, etc. can be produced when there is excess electricity, and stopped when there is none. The system will be designed that there is excess electricity 99,9999% of the time. (rough estimation)

            • Jens says

              If you include the other baseload (geothermal, osmotic power and OTEC) and dispatchable load renewables (biomass, municipal waste) in the mix I am certain you would not require battery storage.

              Further large parts of Europe use district heating where the energy can be stored cheaply as heat and the heat can be produced by heatpumps. And also despite years of focussed efforts we can still achieve a lot of energy savings by using the most efficient technologies in homes and businesses, which in many cases cap the peak power demand making the excess electricity production required less.

              With the proper algorithms and expansion of the HVDC grid connections I would imagine that the cost of electricity will go down and the demand/supply mismatch will be absolutely manageable.

          • Bas says

            In Germany aluminum smelters (who need huge amounts of electricity) only operate fully when the wholesale electricity price is extremely low, which is during overproduction.

            Those periods are well predictable (with the weather). The employees work at adaptable schedules.

            • says

              Renewable power oversupplies may actually be reinvigorating the fossil fuel industry in Germany wherever dedicated customers can be provided with long-term price stability. The Moorburg power plant in Hamburg was dedicated in 2015 with assurances that the Aurubis copper smelter, the Trimet aluminum factory and the ArcelorMittal steel works could operate most effectively with base load coal power. Trimet stresses on its website that its electrolysis equipment runs around the clock 365 days a year. It has joined the Hamburg Efficiency Network without making any recognizable commitment to wind power. The opposition Christian Democrats have now submitted a bill to the Hamburg Senate to use waste heat from the Moorburg power plant to the supply the city’s district heating network. Despite being an expensive afterthought, the alternative of building a new heating plant in the suburb of Wedel would run contrary to Germany’s combined heat and power strategy. The proponents of CO2-free power claim that fossil fuels can be widely eliminated by 2040, but it will take another decade to determine whether Germany can even phase out nuclear power without reverting to more gas power generation, to an extension of lignite usage, or to imports from the French grid.

              • Helmut Frik says

                Trimet already sells it’s smelters as regulating enegry, so they are closing down when demand is high and/or supply is low.
                Lignite usage is going down while phasing out more and more nuclear power.
                Moorburg was designed for district heating from the beginning, but the hot water pipeline to conect it to district heating was too expensive.
                It is switched off whenever power prices fall below 2,5-3ct/kWh, because then it looses money on every kWh produced. It will never ever earn the costs of the plant, this is already obvious.

              • Jens says

                It all comes down to money. Private industries needs an incentive to use energy when there is surplus supply and to minimize energy usage when electricity is in scarce supply.

                In short base load is only cheapest if the industries are not economically compensated for accepting variable energy supply.

                There are many environmental issues with aluminum smelters whereof the energy usage and associated CO2 emissions is only one. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4131939/

                I am not familiar with the techniques used in Germany but hope and expect that outmost care for worker safety and the environment are ingrained values.

  5. says

    Energy transition = storage transition. Since these new energy storages are nowhere to be seen, there is no transition.
    Solar and wind are parasites to power plants which need to deliver backup.
    For a real transition H2 or CH4 should be produced from current. Conversion losses are tremendous: current –> CH4 –> current efficiency will be 25%.
    To maintain prosperity the Netherland would need 100000 large wind turbines + the hydroxen and methane factories. There simpy is no space as the total land area must be converted to chemical factory or windfarm. Solar and wind at national scale is not possible, a dead end road.

    • Paul Gardner says

      I think your calculation assumes that all energy produced by the wind and solar plant is stored before it is used. This is not likely, even in the extreme example of 100% wind and solar.

      The definition of solar and wind as ‘parasites to power plants’ appears inaccurate. Even if we assume the extreme case of sufficient conventional generation capacity to cover for extended periods of zero wind and solar, for most of the year most of the conventional generating capacity will not need to run. There will be substantial savings of fossil fuels, so the ‘parasite’ label is difficult to justify. Of course, paying for the conventional generating capacity which is cold for most of the time is a different, and difficult, question.

      • says

        @P.Gardner
        Yes, most of the energy needs to be stored or converted to motor fuel. Also because the wind blows sufficiently 1 of 3 days only. Power stations need to be standby all the time, they are the only ones that are able to stabilize the grid. It is my observation that the technology for an energy transition does not exist yet. Continuing to install solar and wind will result in a green facade and hidden diesel backup generators. Extremely expensive. We are ruining a solid and reliable energy system. Renewables are a big threat to humanity.

        • Helmut Frik says

          Nope. In the european Grid, the situation of “No Wind” does not happen. The capacity factor which always prowides pwoer sies the bigger the grid gets you look at. In a grid including Europe+ Mena this facor with modern N117 Turbines on high towers reaches 30% of nampeplate capacity of reliable power as dfined for fossile fuel plants. This even without solar power which has negative correlation to wind power.
          And cold power plants do not “run in standby”. They do not run art all, they are cold, and only a lonly wathman is taking care of them. Only if wether forcast tells in some days there will be low wind + low sun simultaniuously, some people will start to fire up the plant. You can see this kind of operation in many power plants in germany today.
          The people running the plant are trained for the plant, but spend 90% of time for other work on Grid servides or maintenance work in other plants, etc. No need to permanently staff a plant which just runs two or four weeks in a year or even less.

    • Jens says

      David Dirkse

      Synfuels are produced with 60% conversion efficiency and new research reported this year has shown 79% conversion efficiency. Ruthenium that is the key catalyst has just been shown to be possible to produce in a much more stable configuration with many times bigger surface area.

      Also Synfuels production opens for a lot of side products that also limit GHG emissions and even pave the way for storing more carbon in long term natural depositories. Among the side products are minerals, metals, cement, fresh water, fertilizers etc.

      Your fantasy about power stations required to stand by is simply not true. The offshore wind turbines are approaching 60% capacity factor and the whole idea is to over provision. Other renewable energy forms like OTEC, Osmotic power, geothermal and biofuels either deliver baseload or dispatchable energy.

      Danfoss owner and 20% owner of SMA has just launched a project after years of research where they use the salinity of geothermal water to produce electricity by osmotic power. They aim for less than $0.015/kWh.

      • says

        Biofuels are unethical as they destroy the habitat of animals.
        It is thanks to fossil fuels that a crowded country as the Netherlands still enjoys fine nature. ( Most trees already cut in 1500, at 1 million inhabitants , now 17 million)
        The only technology able to replace fossil will be nuclear by nature. A lot of research has to be done.
        Meanwhile, the “renewables” are a severe threat to nature and humanity. Energy poverty will bring us back to feudal times: only the rich will live a convenient life at the cost of many poor: servents, tenants or worse.

    • Bas Gresnigt says

      Suggest that you check your speculations at dutch FactCheck (NRC, our pro-nuclear most reliable paper is involved).

      Realize that renewable implies a combination of technology (wind+solar+geothermal+storage+ ….).
      While Off-shore wind alone can generate already far more electricity than we need.
      Further that P2G is viable and it’s technology is improving fast. And we already store gas in earth cavities at massive scale (so natural gas processing plant capacity can be lower).
      etc. etc.

    • Bas says

      Netherlands need ~10GW on av. So we need to install only 5000 wind turbines of 8MW to produce all electricity needed. Which implies that we only need to install them along the busy & noisy highways so nobody can hear them.

      We also can install part in the sea’s around us.
      Then we have enough roof space to produce all electricity we need.
      So if we combine we can easily produce enough to supply all future electric vehicles too.

      Consider also that:
      – wind turbines will increase in max. power (EU study showed that 20MW is feasible with present technology) as well in capacity factor (better design, higher towers which imply more steady wind).
      – The efficiency of PV-panels increases as that techology improves steadily, which widely expected to continue during next decades. Increase ~0.3%/a, which implies an efficiency of ~30% (now 21%) in 2050.

  6. Math Geurts says

    Data for the Netherlands: final energy demand in 2014: 1980 PJ.
    6 MW wind on land will deliver around 40 PJ.
    Maximum PV for Germany in 62 scenario’s = 150 GW in 2050. Land surface of the Netherlands = 10% of Germany. Buildings = 20% of Germany. Very optimistic scenario would be 25 GW PV in 2050 for the Netherlands = 80 PJ.

    Who discovers anything like an “energy transition”?

    • Bas Gresnigt says

      As ‘usual’, we in NL wait until things become more clear. In the mean time we do something to be roughly in line with other EU countries.
      Also because experts calculated that sea level rise would benefit our economy.

      Considering popularity of renewable electricity (especially wind) I believe that we, the population, are now making the choices. Even a classic utility such as Eneco now promotes wind power, so chance that all other utilities will have to follow when they want to prevent great losses.

      It also implies a fast end for Borssele, our only NPP. The owner, Delta, is already making losses…
      Luckily as Borssele is one of the most dangerous NPP’s in the EU, thanks to our pro-nuclear (rather virtual) ‘NRC’. Borssele is even allowed to continue while not implementing all the recommendations of the EU stress test after Fukushima!

        • Bas Gresnigt says

          Yes we should replace the older <2MW wind turbines which require once in 6 months a maintenance visit, by the 8MW wind turbines which require once in two years a maintenance visit. The blades of those bigger wind turbines also turn much slower which is more agreeable for the eye & minds of people.

          • Hans says

            Also time to finally put a realistic price on the external cost of climate change and to replace the non-functioning C02 emission market with a carbon tax of about 80€ per tonne CO2.

            • Bas Gresnigt says

              Agree.
              EU countries won’t do that alone as it implies that emitting industries will move to other EU countries who didn’t increase the costs of emissions. And it will take many years before the blocking EU countries (those dependent on fossil) will agree…
              The blocking countries are supported by USA where CO2 and other GHG emission is free.

            • Math Geurts says

              If the EU-countries would agree on such a “realistic” carbon tax, they also would agree on enforcement of the ETS.

              • Bas Gresnigt says

                Right,
                The ETS idea is fine. It only needs a system of depreciation. E.g.
                Emission rights become each year 3% less.

                So an emission right for 100kg becomes 97kg next year, then 94.1kg, 91.3kg, 88.5Kg, 85.9Kg, etc.

  7. Samuel Furfari says

    You are doing a kindergarten mistake. The final demand is not what you are pretending. It is very well defined by Eurostat. It is the final demand of electricity, heating and cooling and fuel transport. The EU directive has never hided that the objective is based on the final demand and not the gross primary demand. I teach these notions at the first lesson of energy policy.

    • Martien Visser says

      It’s not only the energy losses in the energy sector, which has been omitted in the directive, abpnd which will be substantial if solar and wind energy grow as predicted. But as well the energy demand for ocean shipping (“Seablind”) and the energy demand for producing feedstock. I don’t argue whether the directive is correct or not. My statement is that, due to this definition, even if we reach 100% renewables, we will still need a lot of fossil fuels.

      • says

        This renewables story is a fairy tale. Consider the cost of 1 ton of steel if the ore was digged by hand in Sweden, transported by horses to the coast, shipped by sailing ships to the Netherlands, and processed at steel mills using wood (or dried cow dung?). So, windmills are not sustainable at all. They are there because fossil fuels produced them. (1 offshore windmill is 1 million kg of steel and copper)

  8. says

    Interesting article, it leads to the question: How appropriate is the renewables’ share target at all? If the Netherlands – despite insulation and heat pumps – currently have one of the lowests REN shares in the EU, and countries such as Romania or Poland a much higher one, due to burning of wood in old ovens and co-firing of biomass in inefficient coal plants – it apparently is not an indicator of progress towards a low-carbon society. It simply includes too different fuels: electricity from PV and wind, as well as traditional fire wood. In its current form, it seems to be quite a misleading indicator.

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