Rhein on Energy and Climate

The EU aims at generating 30 per cent of its power needs from renewable sources by 2020 and close to 100 per cent by 2050.

Most of the renewable power will have to come from on-shore and off-shore wind generation, the rest from large-scale PV installations in sunny regions in the South, including North Africa, hydro power and biogas plants.

Regions close to the Sea – North Sea, Baltic and Atlantic – have the best chances of meeting the EU targets. They should be able to cover essentially all their power demand through wind turbines. This is already the case for three northern German “Länder”, which will meet three quarters of their power from renewable sources as of 2012.

Of all EU regions, Scotland offers by far the biggest potential for the long-term development of renewable energy resources.

It can count on 25 per cent of Europe’s off-shore wind and tidal and 10 per cent of its wave potential! Its off-shore wind resources amount to huge 200 GW. Harnessing only one third of that potential by 2050 would be enough to cover its needs seven times and export the surplus to Britain and other parts of the EU.

Cleverly, Scotland has developed close research and development ties with Abu Dhabi, equally confronted with the need to develop alternatives for its oil and gas industry, the present backbone of its economy. Both countries complement each other: Scotland disposing of long experience but lacking Abu Dhabi’s huge financial clout.

But wind and solar power are largely useless without European-wide power grids:

  • Member states must therefore restrain their support for more generation capacity until the grid has caught up.
  • The EU must urgently elaborate appropriate long-term master plans, stretching from Norway and Scotland to the Mediterranean in the South and Russia in the East.
  • Wind, solar and carbon capture and storage (CCS) should constitute the backbones for Europe’s long-term power supply.


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