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Earth, water, wind or fire?

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Earth, water, wind or fire?Hydroelectric power, the number one renewable energy source in Europe at present, accounts for 13% of EU electricity production. Apart from the development of very small hydropower plants adapted to specific situations, wave and tidal energy is now the most interesting research field.
Wind energy is in second place, with a total installed power approaching 4000 megawatts (MW). There are some very large sites, particularly along the coasts of the North Sea and the Mediterranean. Intensive research into aerodynamics and mechanics has enabled considerable technical progress to be made and the cost of a kilowatt-hour has become very competitive. The development of powerful wind power plants on offshore platforms offers the prospect of a promising future for this sector.
Lastly, encouraged by the good results already achieved in plants all over Europe, research is continuing with a view to improving still further the operating performances of photovoltaic and thermal solar power. One application which would seem to have a promising future is the more systematic incorporation of collectors in buildings.

The Earth's heat
The geothermal energy potential under the ground is an interesting source of heat in several European regions. As a result of a European demonstration project, heat can be pumped to collective housing and buildings in the small town of
Haag (Austria).

Earth, water, wind or fire?

Offshore wind farms
In Sweden the first offshore wind farm was built in 1998 in the Baltic Sea not far from the island of Gotland. The objective of this European demonstration project, on which Denmark and the United Kingdom collaborated, is to illustrate the technological and economic feasibility of this type of plant whose ability to supply abundant and very cheap electricity should offset the high construction costs.

Earth, water, wind or fire?

Mini-hydropower
In the protected regional park of Adamello (Italian Alps), a small demonstration power plant supplies cheap energy locally without harming a very sensitive natural environment.

 
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