Spotlight on the Future: Sustainable Energy Week 2010
By Patrick Lambert, Director of the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI)
What is the outlook for energy in Europe? What does decarbonisation really mean? How can Europe put into practice the myriad of “sustainable energy” ideas being generated in all corners of all Member States, from public authorities, private companies, NGOs, consumer groups and citizens? The 2010 edition of the European Union Sustainable Energy Week holds the answers.
Sustainable Energy Europe is the European Union’s campaign to raise awareness of intelligent energy supply and end-use. Since 2007 the campaign has hosted a week-long event called “European Union Sustainable Energy Week.” Comprised of more than 200 events throughout Europe, bringing together representatives from the many sectors dedicated to improving sustainable energy, the Week also gives rise to many news announcements and story opportunities.
Sevenfold growth in number of participants
Sevenfold growth in number of participants
The concept of a meeting that would focus on the achievements of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign, bring together experts to discuss European energy policy issues, and host stakeholder debates began in 2005. At a Sustainable Energy Conference in Brussels, about 220 participants first came together in the Residence Palace.
The success of that initial conference made it clear that the European Commission should create and be host to something bigger - something that would involve as many stakeholders as possible. After all, the goal of exchanging information and displaying solutions that work can only be successful if all concerned can come together. And indeed, the scope has broadened even further and more quickly than the organisers initially envisaged.
The blossoming of the Week, which is organised in 2010 by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, is testament to a commitment to sustainable energy. Figures prove its success: the first official Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels in January 2007 hosted 40 major European players. Organisers held 30 events and attracted about 4,500 individuals. Not bad for an inaugural event!
But just four years later, the number of activities and events has grown by an astonishing 330 percent. The 2010 edition of the Sustainable Energy Week will see over 80 events in Brussels alone, plus 260 energy days across the EU-27.
Quality projects, challenging topics
It’s not just the sheer numbers that point to the Week’s success, but a diversity of speakers and a richness of content that very few pan-European events can match.
Last year’s edition, for example, was marked by the launch of the “Covenant of Mayors,” a first of its kind alliance that brought together pioneering cities who are taking the lead in fighting global warming. This event alone attracted more than 1,000 attendees at a launch event at the European Parliament.
Activities in 2010 will be no less exciting.
At the opening conference on 23 March, Commissioner Oettinger will provide a view of the EU’s plans for action on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources to meet the 20-20-20 targets. The speakers' panel will also include the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, an influential member of the European Parliament and the Spanish Minister representing the EU Presidency.
Another high-point of the week will be the announcement of the winners of the Sustainable Energy Europe Awards, which every year go to the “best of the best” sustainable energy projects of the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign.
One of the most visual events in Brussels will take place at lunchtime on 24 March: four European Commissioners and other senior officials will compete in an electric-bicycle race to demonstrate how easy it is to choose cleaner and more sustainable modes of transport. The unusual scene will see the VIPs (wearing bike helmets, of course) compete in two teams on a 135 metre circuit on the Esplanade of the Berlaymont building. Confirmed participants include Commissioners Oettinger, Hahn, Potočnik and Hedegaard.
“Getting to your destination as quickly as possible shouldn’t be the only decision factor influencing your choice of mode of transport,” said Franz Voves, Minister-President of the Austrian Region of Steiermark, the organiser of the bicycle race. “Sustainable mobility is about choosing a means of getting from point A to point B that doesn’t rely on the use of fossil fuels. We are holding this event to put the spotlight on the ease of bicycle use in urban settings.”
Many themes will be touched on during the events of 2010 EU Sustainable Energy Week. As we “take a week to change tomorrow,” we look forward to bringing together experts in renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and clean transport who together will give us a glimpse of Europe’s sustainable energy future.