Solar Power in Europe
The EU has big plans for its renewable energy future, and much attention has thus far been directed towards wind generated power, with nations such as the UK and Germany leading the way in making the most of Europe's wind potential. For this reason, the European Commission's latest plan to reduce carbon emissions by pumping a huge slice of the 50 billion euros available for research and development into solar power, may raise a few eyebrows.
Power generated from solar panels and carbon capture-and-store technology are the two major components of the EU's plans, as the commission tries to demonstrate how it is taking the necessary steps to meet ambitious carbon cutting targets. The plan, due to be released tomorrow, is a direct attempt to raise the EU's profile before the UN summit meeting in Copenhagen in December on reaching a new global agreement to curb climate change.
Even as the world emerges from a financial crisis, a new order in the region is in motion as companies are being increasingly encouraged to invest heavily in clean energy technology. "Markets and energy companies acting on their own are unlikely to be able to deliver the needed technological breakthroughs within a sufficiently short time span to meet the EU's energy and climate policy goals," the commission said in a draft of the plan obtained by the International Herald Tribune.
While 50 billion euros may seem like a tall order with the economy barely out of recession, experts agree that the large-scale investment will pay off. The market for the technology is exploding, offering the prospect of massive earnings and millions of jobs for countries that take an early lead.
"Increasing smart investment in research today is an opportunity to develop new sources of growth, to green our economy and to ensure the EU's competitiveness when we come out of the crisis," said Janez Potočnik, commissioner for science and research.
The plan, still in its early stages of development, will come in addition to the costly cap and trade system used to regulate greenhouse gases that are already in place. Some of the 27 EU member countries also tax carbon dioxide emissions associated with heating homes and running cars.
In a plan for allocating the money, the commission calls for 16 billion euros for solar power over the next 10 years, 13 billion euros for carbon capture and storage, seven billion euros for nuclear and six billion euros for wind.
However, as much as the commission's plans are a sign of the regions commitment to the fight against climate change, environmentalists cannot be entirely happy with the significant commitment also made to carbon-capture technologies. But the commission argues this is totally necessary in order for Europe to meet its carbon-cutting targets and remain competitive.
But the plans to drive forward with the development of European solar power will no doubt be welcomed by environmentalists.
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