A few years ago, who would have imagined a world where shale is rewriting geopolitics, where solar and wind are supplanting coal in Germany, or where there are serious concerns over the lights starting to go out in the UK. One thing is clear - the European Energy landscape is changing at a pace that has never been seen before.
2015 promises to be an exciting and crucial year in which European Union (EU) energy policy-makers will play a particularly important role. Over the next months, members of the European Parliament’s Industry and Environment committees will be shaping the EU’s energy and climate future in a rapidly changing world. What will this future look like?
When we look at the world’s energy landscape today, one trend is crystal clear: The EU will need secure, low-carbon and affordable energy.
At present, more than 50% of the EU’s primary energy production is from low or zero carbon renewable. This show that decarbonizes power system is increasingly being observed across the EU. Recent articles have reported, for example, how renewable energy is providing the largest share of Germany’s electricity supply and how Denmark is also moving in the same direction.
Looking at the history of energy policy in the modern industrial era, there has indeed never been a time of such rapid and drastic change, the direction of which remains unknown even to the key players. Previous turning points in history of global energy, like the switch from coal to oil before the First World War or the 1970 energy crisis.
Similarly, the events in Ukraine and the Crimea have pulled Europe’s reliance on Russian gas into greater focus. While that may be unpalatable for some, Russian gas is likely to remain a key feature in Europe’s energy mix for years to come.
One thing that never changes is that energy projects are big, expensive and long term. Change requires huge investment of capital, as well as regulatory and legislative time and resource. Communications and engagement will have a critical role to play across multiple stakeholder audiences to help Europe navigate this transition – a challenge that we relish!