Special Report

Conclusion

 

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Addressing grid, social and funding obstacles is the key to bolstering the renewables revolution swiftly taking hold in Europe

If there is one conclusion to draw from our analysis of the National Renewable Energy Action Plans, it is that the challenges for member states as they prepare to embrace the renewables revolution are multi-faceted. They range from the financial to the social, from the political to the ­environmental.

The European Commission’s latest energy scenario for 2030 points to demand falling even further than previously expected. And EREC has announced that renewable energy sources are growing much faster than the EU estimated a decade ago.

With renewable sources quickly becoming a major part of the EU’s energy mix, it is important to face the obstacles in their way.

Grid connections, social acceptance and funding are the three key hurdles. On the issue of grids, all eyes are on the commission’s eagerly awaited energy infrastructure package, due in November. It is hoped it will provide a clear way forward.

Better communication with the public can smooth out parts of the planning process. EU member states are starting to recognise this: a pan-European initiative led by the Scottish government to study examples of good practice in planning and approval of wind farms, led by the Scottish government, will produce a toolkit to generate better quality wind farm proposals.

Future reforms must avoid sudden drops in confidence delaying project developments. Investors are sensitive to panic reactions: hurried decisions could undermine member states’ efforts to meet renewable energy targets.
The technology is there and governments have introduced incentives and support for renewables. Now policymakers must take an axe to the obstacles that remain.