Energy review for 2002: wind energy thrives, but Kyoto could push prices up

The past year saw wind power continuing to grow across Europe, with wind farms planned off the coasts of Ireland and Sweden, and Germany predicted to become a world leader in wind energy. The EU launched an ‘intelligent energy’ programme to boost the renewables market and increase energy efficiency, while a spate of reports argued the real costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe.

Ireland launched 2002 with the go-ahead for a new €643 million wind farm, the largest offshore wind farm to be built in the world (see related story). And in February the Irish government announced the approval of a 363MW green energy generating plant to provide electricity for up to 250,000 homes (see related story).

A separate report showed that 2001 was another record year for European wind power, with an additional 4,500MW of wind power capacity raising Europe’s total to 17,000MW (see related story).

March released a report predicting renewable energy in Europe will reach 109GW by 2010 (see related story), while in April the European Commission launched a new €215 energy programme focusing on renewables and energy saving (see related story).

The month of April also saw arguments over the costs of meeting Kyoto emissions targets emerge in two contradictory studies (see related story), while a German study on wind power suggested the country would become a world leader in wind energy (see related story). A European conference warned that more research was needed to reduce the costs of wind power (see related story).

May revealed EU power prices would have to rise by up to 13% to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets (see related story), while in June EU ministers agreed to back a Commission proposal to boost energy efficiency in European buildings by setting up a standard system for maximising energy efficiency (see related story). The World Wildlife Fund also launched a European green energy standard (see related story).

In July a US group warned that implementing the Kyoto protocol could damage the EU economy (see related story), while a Nordic fund donated €10 million to the Baltic Sea Region to become a testing ground for Kyoto mechanisms to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (see related story).

Ventilation was the subject of an August report suggesting Europe could save €2.6 billion and 20% in energy by increasing the efficiency of air conditioning systems in offices and businesses (see related story).

In September a Danish report criticised the “doomsday prophecies” of the World Wildlife Fund following its calculation of the population’s ecological footprint (see related story).

The Basque government announced in October that Spanish classrooms would soon be basking in the warm glow of the sun from solar panels mounted on roofs and classroom walls to promote solar power to the next generation (see related story).

November saw the European commissions proposals for directives on nuclear safety and nuclear waste management, while a pressure group warned that setting up new nuclear power stations in the UK could cost the public £1 billion (see related story). Elsewhere, a Swedish crematorium offered to pump excess heat from its furnace into the city’s central heating system (see related story).

The year ended with the launch of a website to stimulate public debate on the future of energy (see related story) and a warning that EU countries would miss greenhouse gas reduction targets if they continued to pursue inadequate policies on cutting emissions (see related story).

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