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Andris Piebalgs' Blog

by Euan Mearns Fri Mar 7th, 2008 at 08:10:05 AM EST

Andris Piebalgs is the European Energy Commissioner with responsibility for shaping European Union (EU) energy policy. These policies may then be adopted by the European Parliament and will effectively shape Europe's energy future.

Mr Piebalgs has an informative web site where he has newly installed a blog inviting comments on EU energy policy.

I would like to invite all my fellow bloggers and all citizens to contribute your ideas.

Andris, I would like to thank you for providing us bloggers with this wonderful opportunity to relay our ideas and opinions directly into the heart of the European Parliament. But beware, not all ideas and opinions are born equal.

There's more under the fold.....

Diary rescue by Migeru

I have left a lengthy comment trying to emphasise the importance of energy efficiency:

Andris Piebalgs said:

"I would like 2008 to be the European year of Energy Efficiency. I'm proposing to table measures to increase energy efficiency in our buildings, in our energy devices, in the way we consume energy. What are your ideas?"

To which I replied:

I agree whole heartedly with this but need to draw attention to one glaring omission. The most important energy efficiency measure to consider is the efficiency of energy gathering / energy production systems. This must lie at the very heart of EU energy policy IMHO. And once this idea is taken on board then we will be on the road to our salvation.

The policy page says this:

Our sustainable future largely depends on increased use of renewable energies. The European Commission has proposed and the European Council has endorsed an overall binding 20% renewable energy target and a binding minimum target of 10% for transport biofuels for the EU by 2020. That means that in 2020 one fifth of the energy and one tenth of all transport fuels consumed in the EU will have to come from renewable energy sources.

My immediate reaction to this is one of unreserved endorsement combined with disbelief with respect to the biofuels targets. Until a way is found to grow temperate latitude biofuels with eroei over 7 that do not threaten our food supplies then my opinion is that  further development of biofuels should be abandoned until such time. Internal combustion engines are at best 40% efficient. Thus taking bio ethanol with eroei of 1.5 and burning it in this way is tantamount to simply burning food piles for no beneficial reason.

This also caught my eye:

Technology will play a central role in achieving the targets of the new Energy Policy for Europe. For this reason the Commission will annually invest approximately €1 billion between 2007 and 2013 in energy technology research and innovation. Technology must help to lower the costs of renewable energy, increase the efficient use of energy and ensure that European industry is at the global forefront. The Commission will therefore prepare the first European Strategic Energy Technology Plan in 2007.

That is some €7 billion. Let us hope the money is spent wisely. I would feel inclined to replace "lower the cost of renewable energy" with "improve and prioritise the efficiency of renewable energies" - and then we will be on the right track.

And so if you were given an opportunity to give advice to the EU Energy Commissioner, what would you say? Post comments for discussion here or visit Andris Piebalgs' blog to tell him directly what you think. Remember this will be a rolling debate that will take place over many months that may hopefully culminate in the building of a trans European HVDC grid and electrification of all our transportation.

sloooow modding... your comment is not up yet.

thanks for the heads-up, this could be important.

we could bring a lot of what we discuss here to a bigger portal, perhaps...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:48:22 AM EST
Excellent angle.

Heaven knows we need to mobilize all our resources in order to emerge with appreciative quality of life for all children.

Heaven knows we have all it takes, as can be read on my posting to mr Piebalgs:

--- March 1st, 2008 at 8:35 pm ---

Dear mr Piebalgs,

Firstly I'd like to applaud this initiative. I assume you have dedicated adequate resources in communicating with your European constituency in order to make optimal use of the knowledge present in it.

Upon your request I am willing to support this endeavour where I can.

I'd like to take the liberty to share some of the key findings of my research so far:

on the formal side:

  • state of the art knowledge is hidden from main stream research institutes
  • - it took concrete interactions with stake holders and compare them with official reports to come to this conclusion

on the content side:
  • for road transport: bio fuels, hydrogen, CNG/LNG are fundamentally flawed and temporary at best
  • mass produced electric vehicles (EV) are a reality wirhin 3 years (source: CEO Renault Nissan)
  • Israel will have 200.000 charging points and 500 battery swapping stations for those cars by then (source: www.projectbetterplace.com)
  • a member state will join this initiative by the end of this month
  • the electricity source of choice for these EV's is from Solar Thermal power plants (CSP)
  • for the EU, CSP is also entirely feasable, as indicated by the presentation of CSP for the EU (TREC) by Prince Hassan of Jordan to MEP's some months ago
  • - cheaper as coal with CCS; cheaper as nuclear (when taking decommissioning cost into account)
  • - 100 % reliable, sustainable electricity within 15 years for all member states
  • - abundant drinking water (a by product of CSP) for the North Sahara
  • - major business opportunities for EU-industries

  • a leading role regarding these 2 phenomena for the EU is entirely feasable. Facilitating your endeavours of reducing the EU's dependency on -foreign- oil & gas and effectively addressing emissions / climate change
  • the EU's leading role regarding these issues on the world stage will enable it to facilitate its endeavours for a more sustainable course for people, planet and profit

Upon your request I can supply you with in depth information regarding the aforementioned.

Emil Möller


indeed not new an angle: http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2006/12/9/16451/1405

by emilmoller (emil@beyondthewalls.eu) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:00:20 PM EST
still no comments modded... what a metaphor for europe's energy policies, crickets..

ok, ok, there are a few chirps, but not at andris's site yet!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 09:04:09 PM EST
Well I left my 2 cents, and it took over a day to appear. Sites which have delayed (or filtered) comments seldom develop into a community.

They tend to end up as a pronouncement followed by various remarks on this, but no dialog. A real blog has to be spontaneous and interactive, and be willing to put up with the occasional trolls. An example of a good one is the economics blog run by Mark Thoma (Economist View) and a bad one that of Paul (I know everything) Krugman.

The worst is that of conservative Greg Mankiw who shut down all comments when he discovered that not everyone thought he was a god.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 10:00:49 AM EST
Robert and Melo - I agree that the moderation was very slow - but this was their first day. Clearly not a good idea to post on a Friday and then disappear for the weekend.  Better they post their articles Mondays.

I understand that they want to avoid abusive comments on the Commissioner's web site. But the lack of facility to respond to what others have said is a bit frustrating.

If they do not get a more spontaneous interface installed then I may be tempted to move the debate side over to The Oil Drum where I normally hang out.


by Euan Mearns on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 11:18:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Left a small comment to Piebalg's first blog, and a longer one to his second, which was up today.

Short comment (policies for energy efficiency):

On the product side, I would like to see the European Union adopt the Japanese `top-runner' approach. It is a tried and proven policy that makes the most efficient products now into the industry standard after a number of years. There has already been discussion of this in the Commission, as I understand it.

On the production side, energy efficiency should feature more prominently in the EU's integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) policy, particularly in the reference documents drawn up for the industry.

On the consumption side, the major issues are information and people's aversion to front-up investments. Investment in energy efficient equipment and housing is often worthwhile, but only pays back after a number of years. The first problem could partially be dealt with on the European level, by building an information clearing-house for domestic energy efficiency. The second problem can be dealt with through providing zero-interest financing. The EU should stimulate its Member States to do so, when possible, through the power utilities, or now, power companies.

Longer comment (renewables, security of supply):

As you indicate, the most important factor that will drive the development of renewables is policy innovation. In that context, I would like to make two comments.

First, reports have it that the Commission will seek to implement a Europe-wide renewable energy certificate scheme. This is a bad idea. Renewable energy certificates have a very poor performance in practice. For instance, the UK's renewable energy certificates have cost a lot and effected very little.

Experience shows that feed-in tariffs are a more effective policy. A renewable energy certificate scheme on the European level would undercut national feed-in tariffs and thereby damage the development of renewables in various countries. An alternative measure would be a Europe-wide mimimum feed-in tariff.

This would be a great measure to further the growth of renewables, and would leave individual Member States the required flexibility to meet their renewables targets by increasing the tariff or by providing ancillary support for renewables as they see fit.

By my understanding of EU law on this topic, the hurdles faced by a Europe-wide feed-in tariff would be exactly the same as a renewable energy certificates scheme.

Second, if renewables are ever going to provide the majority of our electricity, it will be necessary to make further innovations in the electricity grid. There needs to be more support for this from the Commission, both in terms of research under the 7th framework programme, and in terms of integration of national grids through the Trans European Networks. Both research and TEN should receive larger budgets.

Having a more integrated electricity grid, far more capacity for energy storage and maintaining significant spare capacity are all preconditions for establishing a competitive energy market in which security of supply is ensured. Liberalisation is currently being rushed by Brussels and its actual effects are not carefully considered.

Splitting the grid from the providers has previously been attempted in California and did not lead to very satisfactory results. So please consider the following questions:

What is the coordination between your Directorate and DG Competition on this topic? How will the EU ensure that there is no imbalance between the regulation on the providers and on the grid operators, as was the case in California? How will the EU prevent the rise of Enron-like intermediaries? How will the EU ensure that there is effective competition without an integrated grid? How will the EU guarantee that liberalisation does not lead to higher energy prices, as would be expected under the current market conditions and the practice of marginal pricing?

Hope Piebalgs has time to read the comments...
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Mar 7th, 2008 at 09:20:19 AM EST
Very well written. Maybe I have time later today to write him something on transport and energy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 10th, 2008 at 05:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Euan, here are a couple of previous ET communications to Andris Piebalgs that might interest you:

Biofuels Consultation

Open Letter complaining about the Public "Consultation" on the Energy Green Paper.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 7th, 2008 at 02:30:16 PM EST
The response by John Evans on biofuels is excellent - did that get lodged as an official response?

I agree with most of what is said here though doubt that biofuels will ever be price competitive and that second generation (cellulosic?) should be discouraged purely on energy efficiency grounds.

As the price of oil and gas increases - as it surely will - the input energy costs for bio fuel will continue to rise and it will never be economic since the amount of solar energy that is gathered is paltry.

On efficiency grounds, temperate latitude biofuels are simply inefficient. If you assume a generous eroei of 2.5 that is still only 60% efficient. You stick that in an ICE with 30% efficiency you end up with 18% efficiency - this is nuts.

A main threat here is that biofuels are prolonging the life of the ICE while the big focus now should be on electrification.

by Euan Mearns on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 07:42:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a series of diaries where you can trace the genesis of our entry to the Biofuels consultation (we were classed as an NGO in the consultation website).

Working Together (Part One) by afew on July 12th, 2006

The four diaries in the Biofuels collaboration:

Biofuels Consultation (Part I) Is the objective of promoting biofuels valid? ;
Biofuels, Petro-fuels = Liquid Fuels (Part One) ;
Biofuels & Petro-fuels = Liquid Fuels (Part Two) ;
Biofuels Consultation

Working Together (Part Two) by afew on July 14th, 2006

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 08:04:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Our Biofuels contribution figures in the list here under the heading "NGOs".

It was collective work, though I signed it for submission purposes. (My real name is afew, but my nick on RealLife.com is John Evans.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 10th, 2008 at 04:07:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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