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The report, Renewable energies: success stories, is intended to help expand the use of renewable energy sources and contribute to efforts to meet the European Union’s targets under the EU renewable electricity Directive (2001/77/EC). The EU has set itself an indicative target of producing 12% of its energy – both electricity and heat – and 22.1% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

In detail, the report looks at how much each country in the EU expanded its use of renewable technologies – solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal heating, wind, and some biomass types such as wood and crops – between 1993 and 1999.

According to the EEA’s findings, there are a number of essential elements for success, in the areas of politics, legislation – such as the Non-Fossil Fuels Obligation and the Feed-In Law used in Denmark, Germany and Spain, fiscal tax break, financial and administrative support, technological development, information, education and training. From the evidence, it concludes that success comes from the combined effect of support measures rather than one factor on its own. And the combinations of factors that create success vary from technology to technology.

It lists success stories including the use in Austria of solar thermal energy and biomass-fuelled district heating; wind energy and biomass power in Denmark, photovoltaics, solar thermal and wind energy in Germnay, photovoltaics and wind energy in Spain and biomass district heating in Sweden.

The future also looks bright – the report reveals that many countries that were slow to begin looking at renewables are now showing rapid growth rates.

In the study, to be considered a success the use of a renewable energy technology in a specific country had to show at least one of the

following:

  • an absolute increase equivalent to at least 10% of the total EU-wide increase in output of that technology over the 1993-1999 period; and
  • a percentage increase in output higher than the EU average increase for that technology over the 1993-1999 period.

“This report helps point the way towards solutions,” said EEA Executive Director Domingo JimŽnez-Beltrn. “It demonstrates the European Environment Agency’s determination not only to provide information to support better policy-making but also to gather and disseminate ‘best practice’ information for actors on the ground to use.

“The study also creates a framework that can be used by others to promote renewables and communicate about success stories. I hope it will become the seed for the creation of a clearing house for experiences in how best to promote renewable energies at many levels, from national to local.”

The report was launched at the European Parliament in Brussels at a meeting of the European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources (EUROFORES) and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).

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