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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How plants cope with climate change

Growing plants and biomass for the production of low carbon energy may well be a viable strategy to mitigate global warming, but how do plants themselves adapt to rapid climate change? Scientists studying how plants have naturally evolved to cope with the changing seasons of temperate climates have discovered a first answer to that question. It could help us to breed new varieties of crops, able to thrive in a changing climate.

The importance of the discovery is that it reveals how a species has developed different responses to different climates in a short period of time.

Researchers at the John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich, UK have been examining how plants use the cold of winter to time their flowering for the relative warmth of spring. This process, called vernalization, varies even within the same plant species, depending on local climate. In Scandinavia, where winter temperatures can vary widely, the model plant, Arabidopsis has a slow vernalization response to prevent plants from being 'fooled' into flowering by a short mid-winter thaw. One particular gene, named FLC, delays flowering over the winter and the research team discovered how cold turns off FLC and what keeps it off during growth in spring. In the UK plants only need four weeks of cold to stably inactivate FLC, allowing plants to start their spring flowering early. Arabidopsis plants in Sweden have a mechanism that requires 14 straight weeks of winter cold before FLC is stably inactivated. This prevents the plants flowering only to be hit with another month of harsh winter weather:
"It looks like the variation in this mechanism to adapt the timing of flowering to different winter conditions has evolved extremely quickly. We hope that by understanding how plants have adapted to different climates it will give us a head-start in breeding crops able to cope with global warming." -- Research leader at JIC, Professor Caroline Dean.
Dean says the team studied levels of the FLC gene in Arabidopsis plants (picture) from different parts of the world expecting to find regional variations that correlated with how much cold was required to switch FLC off. It discovered that FLC levels in autumn and the rate of reduction during the early phases of cold were quite similar in Arabidopsis plants from Edinburgh and N. Scandinavia . However, the scientists found big variations in how much cold was required to achieve stable inactivation of FLC. FLC was stably silenced much faster in Edinburgh than it was in N. Scandinavia and a genetic analysis showed that differences in the FLC gene itself contributed to this variation:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The JIC scientists worked in collaboration with a team at the University of Southern California and were funded by the UK's main public funders of biological and environmental sciences, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, commented: "As well as working to prevent climate change we need to be able to harness natural methods to adapt food crops to cope with changed and hostile climates around the world. This is an example of how basic science can make a practical difference."

From temperate climates to the tropics
The research focused on plants growing in temperate climates only. However, other scientists are looking at the same issue for species that thrive in the tropics and subtropics - the places where food security is far more fragile.

Eearlier we pointed to a large initiative launched by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in consultation with the global environmental change science community, which is aimed at refining a comprehensive climate change agenda that is already generating climate-resilient innovations, including crops bred to withstand heat, salt, waterlogging and drought, and more efficient farming techniques to help poor farmers better use increasingly scarce water and fragile soil.

Examples of this research focused on breeding climate-resilient crops include the development of a technology that helps scientists identify "stay-green" genes to help crops like sorghum and millet cheat the heat; Reducing plants' thirst at the molecular level; and fine-tuning a plant's internal clock - in this case sorghum - so that it can be adapted to variations in precipitation levels (earlier post).

The discovery of the mechanism on the climate change coping strategy of plants in temperate climates may inspire similar research on species in the South.

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Why a hydrogen economy doesn't make sense

At a time when the world faces ever more urgent long-term energy choices, it becomes clear that there is no easy way out, no magic solution, no quick fix to potential energy and climate crises. The EU's recently published World Energy Technology Outlook, includes a scenario based on a hydrogen energy system and presents it as if it is a potentially beneficial route. However, one strong voice in the European energy debate exposes the reasons as to why such a 'hydrogen economy' will never make sense. In his recent study entitled 'Does a Hydrogen Economy Make Sense?' [*.pdf], fuel cell expert Ulf Bossel clearly explains why it doesn't. We already came across Bossel, chief of the European Fuel Cell Forum, in a look at the hydrogen debate in Europe (earlier post), which has taken Joseph J. Romm's seminal work 'the Hype about Hydrogen' serious, in which the latter shows why a bioenergy economy is far more feasible (earlier post).

The expert just made his analysis available to a larger audience and it makes for an interesting read. Bossel says that the large amount of energy required to isolate hydrogen from natural compounds (water, natural gas, biomass), package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the energy carrier to the user, plus the energy lost when it is converted to useful electricity with fuel cells, leaves around 25% for practical use — an unacceptable value to run an economy in a sustainable future (see chart; click to enlarge). Only niche applications like submarines and spacecraft might use hydrogen, Bossel says.

“More energy is needed to isolate hydrogen from natural compounds than can ever be recovered from its use,” the expert explains. “Therefore, making the new chemical energy carrier form natural gas would not make sense, as it would increase the gas consumption and the emission of CO2. Instead, the dwindling fossil fuel reserves must be replaced by energy from renewable sources.”

Money doesn't change the laws of physics
While scientists from around the world have been piecing together the technology, Bossel has taken a broader look at how realistic the use of hydrogen for carrying energy would be. His overall energy analysis of a hydrogen economy demonstrates that high energy losses inevitably resulting from the laws of physics mean that a hydrogen economy will never make sense:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

“The advantages of hydrogen praised by journalists (non-toxic, burns to water, abundance of hydrogen in the Universe, etc.) are misleading, because the production of hydrogen depends on the availability of energy and water, both of which are increasingly rare and may become political issues, as much as oil and natural gas are today,” says Bossel.

“There is a lot of money in the field now,” he continues. “I think that it was a mistake to start with a ‘Presidential Initiative’ rather with a thorough analysis like this one. Huge sums of money were committed too soon, and now even good scientists prostitute themselves to obtain research money for their students or laboratories — otherwise, they risk being fired. But the laws of physics are eternal and cannot be changed with additional research, venture capital or majority votes.”

Even though many scientists, including Bossel, predict that the technology to establish a hydrogen economy is within reach, its implementation will never make economic sense, Bossel argues.

“In the market place, hydrogen would have to compete with its own source of energy, i.e. with ("green") electricity from the grid,” he says. “For this reason, creating a new energy carrier is a no-win solution. We have to solve an energy problem not an energy carrier problem."

A wasteful process
In his study, Bossel analyzes a variety of methods for synthesizing, storing and delivering hydrogen, since no single method has yet proven superior. To start, hydrogen is not naturally occurring, but must be synthesized.

“Ultimately, hydrogen has to be made from renewable electricity by electrolysis of water in the beginning,” Bossel explains, “and then its energy content is converted back to electricity with fuel cells when it’s recombined with oxygen to water. Separating hydrogen from water by electrolysis requires massive amounts of electrical energy and substantial amounts of water.”

Also, hydrogen is not a source of energy, but only a carrier of energy. As a carrier, it plays a role similar to that of water in a hydraulic heating system or electrons in a copper wire. When delivering hydrogen, whether by truck or pipeline, the energy costs are several times that for established energy carriers like natural gas or gasoline. Even the most efficient fuel cells cannot recover these losses, Bossel found. For comparison, the "wind-to-wheel" efficiency is at least three times greater for electric cars than for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Another headache is storage. When storing liquid hydrogen, some gas must be allowed to evaporate for safety reasons—meaning that after two weeks, a car would lose half of its fuel, even when not being driven. Also, Bossel found that the output-input efficiency cannot be much above 30%, while advanced batteries have a cycle efficiency of above 80%. In every situation, Bossel found, the energy input outweighs the energy delivered by a factor of three to four.

“About four renewable power plants have to be erected to deliver the output of one plant to stationary or mobile consumers via hydrogen and fuel cells,” he writes. “Three of these plants generate energy to cover the parasitic losses of the hydrogen economy while only one of them is producing useful energy.”

This fact, he shows, cannot be changed with improvements in technology. Rather, the one-quarter efficiency is based on necessary processes of a hydrogen economy and the properties of hydrogen itself, e.g. its low density and extremely low boiling point, which increase the energy cost of compression or liquefaction and the investment costs of storage.

The alternative: An electron economy
Economically, the wasteful hydrogen process translates to electricity from hydrogen and fuel cells costing at least four times as much as electricity from the grid. In fact, electricity would be much more efficiently used if it were sent directly to the appliances instead. If the original electricity could be directly supplied by wires, as much as 90% could be used in applications.

“The two key issues of a secure and sustainable energy future are harvesting energy from renewable sources and finding the highest energy efficiency from source to service,” he says. “Among these possibilities, biomethane [which is already being used to fuel cars in some areas] is an important, but only limited part of the energy equation. Electricity from renewable sources will play the dominant role.”

To Bossel, this means focusing on the establishment of an efficient “electron economy.” In an electron economy, most energy would be distributed with highest efficiency by electricity and the shortest route in an existing infrastructure could be taken. The efficiency of an electron economy is not affected by any wasteful conversions from physical to chemical and from chemical to physical energy. In contrast, a hydrogen economy is based on two such conversions (electrolysis and fuel cells or hydrogen engines).

“An electron economy can offer the shortest, most efficient and most economical way of transporting the sustainable ‘green’ energy to the consumer,” he says. “With the exception of biomass and some solar or geothermal heat, wind, water, solar, geothermal, heat from waste incineration, etc. become available as electricity. Electricity could provide power for cars, comfortable temperature in buildings, heat, light, communication, etc. (See our earlier post on why an 'electron economy' would mean a boost to bioenergy).

“In a sustainable energy future, electricity will become the prime energy carrier. We now have to focus our research on electricity storage, electric cars and the modernization of the existing electricity infrastructure.”

More information:
Bossel, Ulf. “Does a Hydrogen Economy Make Sense?” [*.pdf] Proceedings of the IEEE. Vol. 94, No. 10, October 2006 [version we refer to is hosted at the European Fuel Cell Forum, headed by Ulf Bossel].
The European Fuel Cell Forum.

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EU study shows urgency of low-carbon revolution to fight climate change

A new World Energy Technology Outlook study published by the European Commission's Research Directorate demonstrates the need for radical change in Europe's energy mix to face the double challenges of energy security and climate change.

The "World Energy Technology Outlook 2050" (WETO-H2) [*pdf] was presented as background to the adoption of the EU's comprehensive new energy/climate change package that was presented today.

The study predicts the development of the world's and Europe's energy system to 2050 using three different scenarios:
  1. A "reference" (or 'business-as-usual') scenario with moderate climate-change policies and short-term energy production constraints;
  2. A "carbon constraint" scenario with stronger climate-change policies, and;
  3. A hydrogen scenario, which is a variation on the "carbon constraint" scenario but predicting more hydrogen technology breakthroughs.
This is the second WETO report following the first one which was published in 2003, and the new study shows remarkable differences in results. The WETO 2050 report is also more pessimistic than the International Energy Agency's "World Energy Outlook 2006", which already contained a grim scenario (earlier post).

Some of the key messages of the different WETO-H2 scenarios include:

1. The 'business-as-usual' scenario
  • total energy consumption in the world more than doubles from the current ten Gtoe (gigaton of oil equivalent) per year to 22 Gtoe in 2050. For Europe, the increase is more modest (from 1.9 Gtoe to 2.6 Gtoe per year in 2050);
  • fossil fuels will provide 70% of this total and non-fossil (mostly renwables and nuclear) 30%; Europe will see more renewables and nuclear (40% compared to 20% now);
  • conventional oil production will level off after 2025 at around 100 Mbl/d (million barrels per day); there will be a "plateau" and not an "oil peak"; non-conventional oil will provide the increase to about 125 Mbl/d in 2050;
  • prices will reach $110 per barrel for oil and $100 boe (barrels of oil equivalent) for gas;
  • coal will return as an important source of electricity and reach a price of $110 per ton in 2050;
  • there will be more use of nuclear and renewables after 2020 ("massive after 2030"); more use of renewables and nuclear in Europe will mean that European electricity production in 70% "decarbonised" by 2050, and;
  • resulting CO2 emissions in this scenario will be between 900 to 1000 ppm (parts per million), around double that which is currently perceived by scientists as acceptable. For Europe, CO2 emissions in 2050 will be 10% less than their present level.
2. The 'carbon-constrained' scenario:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

* This scenario accepts a level of CO2 emissions close to 500 ppmv for 2050;
* global energy demand will be three Gtoe lower than in the reference scenario; renewables (30%) and nuclear (40%) will have bigger shares of electricity production but coal consumption will stagnate despite carbon capture and storage technologies;
* global CO2 emissions will be 25% higher than in 1990, but EU emissions will have been halved ("factor two" reduction); the report suggests that, in order to stay within the acceptable level of climate change of 550 ppmv of CO2 equivalent for all greenhouse gases, the world needs a "factor four reduction" but shies away from making the calculations for this scenario, as these policies would need "radical structural changes" in "mentalities, behaviour and organisations" (p. 54), and;
* in Europe, renewables will provide 22% of energy demand and nuclear 30%; the share of fossil fuels will be less than 50%, leading to enhanced energy self-sufficiency for Europe.

3. The 'hydrogen' scenario:

* Total world energy demand will be 8% less than in the reference case; the share of fossil fuels by 2050 will be less than 60%; demand for coal drops considerably but nuclear and renewables increase;
* hydrogen will provide 13% of final energy consumption compared with 2% in the reference case; half of hydrogen production comes from renewables and 40% from nuclear;
* 90% of hydrogen will be used in transport, and;
* Europe will have the following energy mix: nuclear: 33%, oil, natural gas and renewables each 20% and coal 6%.

More information:
European Commission, Directorate-General for Research: World Energy Technology Outlook 2050 [*.pdf], Jan. 8, 2007
International Energy Agency (IEA): World Energy Outlook 2006 [*.pdf]

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EU unveils energy policy for the 21st century: towards a 'low carbon economy' with renewables

Just days after the dispute between Russia and Belarus affected oil supplies to Europe, the European Union's Commission presents its long-awaited new energy policy which must take the Union into the 21st century. The sweeping plan puts climate change and energy security at its heart, while aiming at boosting cross-border competition and cutting the Union's 'addiction' to foreign oil and gas. Energy and climate change will now also become the center-piece of all of the EU's foreign relations and international policies. The Russian oil spat fuels the case for a much hoped for common EU energy policy.

A 'new industrial revolution'
Today, the Commission put forward a series of energy reports and policy proposals, which it hopes will be a catalyst for "a new industrial revolution" that will "transform Europe into a highly energy-efficient and low-CO2 energy economy" by the mid-century.

"The days of secure, cheap energy for Europe are over," the EU executive arm warns in a Strategic Energy Review, which forms the centre-piece of the package. The official report [*.pdf] points to climate change, increasing import dependence and higher energy prices as challenges faced by all EU members and says "a common European response is necessary" to address them.

"With current trends and policies, the EU's energy-import dependence will jump from 50% of total energy consumption today to 65% in 2030," the Commission warns. By that time, it adds, dependence on gas imports will have increased from 57% to 84% and oil from 82% to 93%, making Europe increasingly vulnerable to major oil and gas producers.

The paper also points out that "energy accounts for 93% of carbon dioxide emissions" and therefore lies "at the root of climate change". And, despite current efforts to curb emissions, it predicts they will increase "by around 5% by 2030", leading the Commission to conclude that "the EU's present energy policy is not sustainable".

To address those challenges, the Commission proposes an Action Plan, to be implemented in the next three years. It calls on the European Parliament and on EU leaders to endorse the plan at the forthcoming summit in March. "The point of departure for a common energy policy must be combating climate change, promoting jobs and growth and limiting the EU's external vulnerability to imported hydrocarbons," the Commission says.

The objective should be a 20% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, something that should translate to around a 15% CO2 reduction compared with the Kyoto Protocol's base year of 1990.

The new EU energy strategy is based on three main pillars:

1. Accelerating the shift to low carbon energy
In its report entitelted the Renewables Energy Roadmap [*.pdf] the Commission proposes to maintain the EU's position as a world leader in renewable energy, by proposing a binding target of 20% of its overall energy mix will be sourced from renewable energy by 2020. This will require a massive growth in all three renewable energy sectors: electricity, biofuels and heating and cooling. This renewables target will be supplemented by a minimum target for biofuels of 10%. In addition, a 2007 renewables legislative package will include specific measures to facilitate the market penetration of both biofuels and heating and cooling:

Research is also crucial to lower the cost of clean energy and to put EU industry at the forefront of the rapidly growing low carbon technology sector. To meet these objectives, the Commission proposes a Strategic European Energy Technology Plan [*.pdf]. The European Union will also increase by at least 50% its annual spending on energy research for the next seven years.

At present, nuclear electricity makes up 14% of EU energy consumption and 30% of EU electricity. The Commission proposals underline that it is for each member state to decide whether or not to rely on nuclear electricity. The Commission recommends that where the level of nuclear energy reduces in the EU this must be offset by the introduction of other low-carbon energy sources otherwise the objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions will become even more challenging (see the Draft Nuclear Illustrative Programme - *.pdf).

2. Creation of a true Internal Energy Market
The aim is to give real choice for EU energy users, whether citizens or businesses, and to trigger the huge investments needed in energy, as outlined in the policy proposal Prospects for the Internal Gas and Electricity Market [*.pdf]. The single market is good not just for competitiveness, but also sustainability and security:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

The competition sector enquiry and the internal market communication show that further action is required to deliver these aims through a clearer separation of energy production from energy distribution. As indicated in the policy document entitled the Priority Interconnection Plan [*.pdf], it also calls for stronger independent regulatory control, taking into account the European market, as well as national measures to deliver on the European Union's target of 10% minimum interconnection levels, by identifying key bottlenecks and appointing coordinators.

3. Energy efficiency
The Commission reiterates the objective of saving 20% of total primary energy consumption by 2020. If successful, this would mean that by 2020 the EU would use approximately 13% less energy than today, saving 100 billion euro and around 780 tonnes of CO2 each year.

As outlined in the Strategic Energy Technology Plan [*.pdf], the Commission proposes that the use of fuel efficient vehicles for transport is accelerated; tougher standards and better labelling on appliances; improved energy performance of the EU's existing buildings and improved efficiency of heat and electricity generation, transmission and distribution. The Commission also proposes a new international agreement on energy efficiency.

The proposals centred on these three pillars will need to be underpinned by a coherent and credible external policy.

An international Energy Policy where the EU speaks with one voice
The European Union cannot achieve its energy and climate change objectives on its own. It needs to work with both developed and developing countries and energy consumers and producers. The European Union will develop effective solidarity mechanisms to deal with any energy supply crisis and actively develop a common external energy policy to increasingly "speak with one voice" with third countries. It will endeavour to develop real energy partnerships with suppliers based on transparency, predictability and reciprocity.

Drawing on the consultation process on its Green Paper issued in 2006, the Commission has already made progress towards a more coherent external energy policy as demonstrated by the creation of a network of energy security correspondents. The Commission proposes a whole series of concrete measures to strengthen international agreements including the Energy Charter Treaty, post-Kyoto climate regime and extension of emissions trading to global partners and further extend bilateral agreements with third countries so that energy becomes an integral part of all external EU relations and especially of the European Neighbourhood Policy. As major new initiatives the Commission proposes to develop a comprehensive Africa-Europe partnership and an international agreement on energy efficiency.

Concrete action is required urgently. Taken together, the sector enquiry, strategic review and action plan represent the core of a proposed new European Energy Policy. This process seeks to move from principles into concrete legislative proposals. The Commission will seek endorsement of the energy and climate change proposals during the Spring European Council and will come forward with legislation in light of these discussions.

More information:
Directorate-General for Energy and Transport: Energy for a Changing World, press pack - contains all sub-reports and policy proposals; full reports and layman versions.
European Commission: official communication: An Energy Policy for Europe [*.pdf], Jan. 10, 2007.
EU Rapid Press: Commission proposes an integrated energy and climate change package to cut emissions for the 21st Century - Jan. 10, 2007
EU President José Manuel Barroso: Energy for a Changing World, Jan. 10, 2007.
Euractiv: EU to unveil plans for 'energy industrial revolution', Jan. 8, 2007
Euractiv LINK DOSSIER: Green Energy Paper: What Energy Future for Europe?

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