4 March 2010

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Dear Reader

I am very happy to present you the first edition of DG Energy's newsletter.

The Commission decided on 17 February to create a separate Directorate General for Energy in order to give further impetus to the development of a modern, forward-looking European energy policy. Europe is increasingly energy dependent. The availability of safe and secure energy at competitive and affordable prices is crucial to industrial competitiveness, growth and jobs in Europe. And, whatever the current differences in scientific opinion, Europe needs to face the reality and challenge of climate change.

The new DG Energy will support Commissioner Oettinger in tackling the challenges ahead, building on the progress already made in the first Barroso Commission. The third internal market package now needs to be implemented in full. Work must start on the planned new connections and pipelines within and into Europe. Investing and harnessing renewable energy to meet the targets remains an ambition which is not fully realized. We need also to look ahead beyond 2030 to how Europe can meet its energy needs sustainably by 2050 and how can the European Union can help promote essential improvements in energy efficiency which remain very much linked to decisions taken at national and local level, and by businesses and individual people.

With this newsletter we intend to bring the work of the European Commission in the field of energy closer to you. I hope you will find the information in this newsletter useful.

Philip Lowe

Director-General for Energy DG


Economic Recovery: Second batch of 4-billion-euro package goes to 43 pipeline and electricity projects

The European Commission selected today 43 major energy projects, which will significantly contribute to the economic recovery in the EU, while increasing our security of energy supply by creating cross-border infrastructure. With today's decision, the Commission grants € 2.3 billion to 31 gas and 12 electricity projects. This is the second financial decision under the Economic Recovery Package which amounts to almost 4 billion Euros. It is the largest amount the EU has ever spent on energy infrastructure


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More: European Energy Programme for Recovery


EU strengthens the European Neighbourhood Policy with increased funding for the period 2011-2013

Over EUR 5.7 billion will be allocated in the next three years to reinforce political cooperation and promote economic integration between the EU and its neighbours. Funding will go to support political and economic reforms, regional and cross-border cooperation in the partner countries covered by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) 1 . It will also support projects in areas like climate change, transport, energy and environment. EU neighbours will receive more than EUR 2 billion in 2013, compared with EUR 1.6 billion in 2010.


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More: European Neighbourhood Policy


Commission adopts biomass sustainability report

The Commission adopted recently a report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid biomass and biogas in electricity, heating and cooling. The report makes recommendations on sustainability criteria to be used by those Member States that wish to introduce a scheme at national level, in order to avoid obstacles for the functioning of the internal market for biomass.


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More: Transparency Platform


Recast to reality- Public buildings to show example

A conference on energy efficient buildings will be organised as part of the EUSEW, EU Sustainable Energy Week 2010. The event will take place at the Committee of the Regions building (Rue Belliard, room JDE 51) on 23 March at 14:00. The event is organised by Energy DG's Energy Efficiency department and is targeted towards energy efficiency experts, policy makers and implementers, regional and local authorities, researchers, as well as representatives from industry and civil society. 

Two major issues will be tackled at this event:

- How to ensure the smooth implementation of the new recasted Directive?

- How can public buildings show good practice?

These issues will be addressed in two inter-active panels. Confirmed panel members include MEP Silvia Adriana Ţicău, Mr Martin Powell (Director of Environment at the London Development Agency), Mr Oliver Loebel (PU Industry) and Mr Peter Bach (Danish Energy Agency), Mr W Ornth (Federal Ministry , Germany), Ms Katri Kuusinen (City of Helsinki) and Mr P Matthew (Communities, Local Gov, UK). 



Q&A: European Energy Programme for Recovery


What is the decision all about?

With the decision taken today, the EU Commission finances 12 projects in the electricity sector, and 31 in the gas sector (including 14 reverse flow projects and 2 Liquid Natural Gas terminals) amounting in total to €2.3 billion. We do not pay the full amount of the project but only up to 50% of its total costs. In many cases, the amount we give is the decisive amount missing for the project to start off. In most cases we contribute to specific actions or sub-actions mainly dealing with the conduct of technical studies, the ordering and supply of pipes or cables, of compressors or transformers, and with the financing of construction works or other interventions linked to environmental protection.

Why do you spend this money on infrastructure?

In 2008, the European economy faced a sharp downturn resulting from the financial crisis. Extraordinary and immediate efforts were needed to counter this serious and unprecedented economic situation. Part of the Economic Recovery Plan is to increase Union spending in defined strategic sectors – energy infrastructure, offshore wind and carbon capture and storage – which contribute to the EU meeting its ambitious energy and climate objectives, in addition to stimulating economy and safeguarding jobs. For this the EU set aside Euro 3,98 billion. In December 2009, the EU granted Euro 1,5 billion to offshore-wind-projects and projects in the field of CO2 Capture and Storage. Today's decision is the second financial decision amounting to Euro 2,3 billion.

To secure affordable, reliable and sustainable energy supplies over coming years and decades, the EU faces the urgent task of modernising, expanding, renewing and inter-connecting Europe's energy infrastructure. Generally, the EU energy system lacks diversity, flexibility and resilience to a crisis, such as occurred in January 2009. Member States, particularly in Eastern Europe and on the edges of the EU, need to be better connected to the rest of the EU.

How should these projects increase security of supply?

The gas crisis in January 2009 revealed the shortcomings of the European gas network. Citizens in South-Eastern Europe shivered while gas remained plentiful in places such as the UK and the Netherlands. The reason is that we lack to a large extent connections between national gas infrastructures which were designed largely along national lines. In addition, most big transit pipelines in Europe were designed to push gas one way: from East to West. The same can be said for the electricity grid. The new trans-Pyrenean interconnection will help France in case of overloads (for example during hot summers), or in difficult conditions (as it was recently the case with the disruption caused by the Klaus tempest).


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