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Energy, the Environment and
Sustainable Development

Cleaner energy systems including renewables

  
  

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An Illustrative project

The technology of wind-driven turbines, which are becoming constantly lighter and more efficient, is in permanent development. In order to function ideally, that is to say, without having to fold sails in sudden gusts of violent wind, it is known that the angle of the rotor blades have to be constantly adapted to the speed of the wind. The problem is how to ascertain this speed. Danish research scientists have shown that it is possible to measure it 25 m from the wind turbine by using a laser anemometer based on the Doppler effect. This new technology, which takes up very little space and which is highly efficient even in very bad weather, has been developed in collaboration with German plasma physics specialists and in partnership with a turbine constructor.

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Contact:
eesd@ec.europa.eu
Fax: +32-2-296 42 88

Implications for society

Energy consumption in Europe is expected to grow by 20% between now and 2020, leading to a 14% increase in CO2 emissions. How then can energy supply in the European Union be secured - and diversified - in order to meet this expected growth, while at the same time reducing harmful effects to the environment? Of course, this is a global problem, since demand from developing countries - which need considerable amounts of energy in order to raise their standard of living - will increase even faster. The solution will inevitably entail radical revision of our habits. We will have to give increasing preference to clean and renewable forms of energy.


Implications for the economy

The EU possesses over half the world's wind-powered power generation capacity (3000 megawatts of installed power). 90% of the manufacturers of this machinery are based in Europe, and the sector represents over 20000 jobs. Also in Europe, the generation of photovoltaic solar energy is growing by 20% a year. This sector employs 8000 people, and represents one quarter of worldwide generation. In 1997, renewable forms of energy contributed 6% to the EU's total energy needs. The objective of the Member States is to double this figure by 2005. On a worldwide scale, the entire sector will offer opportunities for rapid growth.


Implications for Europe

Ever since the European Coal and Steel Community was created in 1953, the Community dimension of energy policy has been continually present, with two major objectives: securing Europe's energy supply (external dependence amounts to 50%) and protecting the environment (both in Europe and worldwide). To this end, three-fifths of European research funding for non-nuclear energy over the last five years has been devoted to renewable forms of energy.


Targeted fields of research
  • Clean production of electricity and/or of heat from coal, biomass or other fuels - Combustion and thermochemical conversion with reduced CO2 emissions; improved performance of gas turbines, diesel engines, etc; co-production of electricity and heat;
  • Technologies for converting new and renewable forms of energy - Fuel-cells; biomass; wind energy; photovoltaic and thermic solar technologies; etc.;
  • Integration of new and renewable forms of energy into energy systems - Hybrid systems combining renewable sources with conventional systems; elimination of technical impediments to their integration; etc;
  • Reduction of damage to the environment caused by thermal electrical power stations - Technologies to abate polluting emissions (CO2, SOx, NOx and other pollutants); purification of hot gases; etc.
   
  


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