Brussels, 14 Apr 2005
EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has outlined his six energy priorities, which include a closer linkage between energy, environment and research policies.
Referring to the Lisbon and Kyoto objectives of respectively making Europe the most competitive economy in the world and cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Mr Piebalgs said: 'The key to combining these two objectives, turning Europe's environmental commitments into a competitive advantage, rests in the development and introduction of new technologies.'
Unless Europe makes a concerted effort to do this, the continent risks leading the world with respect to environmental responsibility, but failing to profit from this by developing the new technologies that will have huge commercial potential in the coming decades, added the Commissioner.
The importance of developing new energy technologies has been recognised by Mr Piebalgs' colleague, Science and Research
Commissioner Janez Potocnik. The proposals for the next framework programme for research, FP7, outline seven research
priorities in the field:
- CO2 capture and storage technologies for zero emission power generation;
- clean coal technologies;
- hydrogen and fuel cells;
- renewable energy;
- smart energy networks;
- energy efficiency and savings;
- knowledge for energy policy making.
Some of these technologies, and in particular those relating to clean coal and CO2 capture and storage, are not only essential if the EU is to meet its own Kyoto obligations, but are also key to encouraging a change of practice in other parts of the world. 'At the end of the day, our ability to convince the developing world to address climate change will depend on our ability to demonstrate that technology exists, and can be developed, that will control emissions without significantly restraining growth,' said Mr Piebalgs.
As the Commissioner was speaking at a CO2 capture and storage conference, he devoted part of his presentation to outlining the Commission's priorities in this area. The development of commercially viable technologies must be a Community goal, he said. The cost objective should be to reduce specific sequestration costs to less than 20 euro per tonne of CO2 by pursuing three promising technological approaches, he continued: CO2 separation before combustion, after combustion and during the combustion process.
The options for CO2 storage, meanwhile, have been narrowed down within the Commission's research agenda to geological storage in deep underground formations such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs, saline aquifers and unmineable coal seams. 'Oil and gas fields in particular have proved their capabilities as a safe storage place for millions of years, and they will benefit from injected CO2 for enhanced hydrocarbon recovery. This concept of 'enhanced oil and gas recovery' could prove to be a promising way of extending the lifespan of hydrocarbon fields in the North Sea,' concluded the Commissioner.