The arithmetic is quite simple.
Over the next twenty years it is on the cards that world energy demand
will double, mainly as a result of increased demand in the developing
countries. If the current trend towards massive consumption of fossil
energy (oil and coal) continues, the implications are twofold: ultimately
the resources will be exhausted and, as we are already seeing to our
cost today, global warming will result, caused by greenhouse gases.
In addition, human health will be seriously affected by atmospheric
pollution in all the densely populated regions of the planet.
The time has therefore come to harness the inexhaustible and non-polluting
energy sources which the Earth's ecosystem can offer us. Generated by
the wind, the sun, water, the plant kingdom or by the two most abundant
chemical elements on Earth - i.e. hydrogen and oxygen - these sustainable
energy sources are already an important component of EU energy policy.
Over the next decade the European Union has undertaken to double their
- albeit modest - share from 6% to 12% of its energy supplies. This
will make a significant contribution to reducing Europe's excessive
dependence on imported oil and gas the effect of which has been clearly
highlighted by soaring oil prices. In the context of the liberalisation
of the energy sector, this objective is being furthered by considerable
scientific and technological research aimed at overcoming the obstacles
to exploiting this potential.