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Renewables making progress in Europe

The European Union is forging ahead with the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, regardless of the final position reached on the Kyoto protocol. As talks continued in Bonn on 18 July, aimed at resurrecting the protocol, figures released by EurObserv'er, a con...

The European Union is forging ahead with the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, regardless of the final position reached on the Kyoto protocol. As talks continued in Bonn on 18 July, aimed at resurrecting the protocol, figures released by EurObserv'er, a consortium of European renewable organisations, showed that solar energy use has grown in Europe and is having beneficial effects on more than just the environment. In 2000, over 1 million square metres of solar surface area was installed, showing roughly a third increase on the previous year, and a 100 per cent increase on levels of installations in 1994. It was also the first time that more than 1 million square metres had been installed in one year in Europe. In addition, the revenue and employment figures for the solar industry in Europe show that the sector is increasingly healthy. Over 13,000 people in Europe are now employed in the industry, which is itself worth up to 800 million euro a year. Of the top seven companies in Europe, two are French, two are Danish, one Swedish, one Belgian and one German - and their average annual turnover is around two to three million euro. The trends show that, at the current rate, Europe will have 80 million square metres of installed solar captors by 2010, slightly beneath the target set for European Union as a whole of 100 million square metres of captors by the end of 2010. Meanwhile in Bonn, a declaration of the heads of state of the European Union governments stated that 'the European Union remains firmly committed to bringing the [Kyoto] protocol into force by 2002.' It added that although total emissions in the European Union had fallen by four per cent between 1990 and 1999, further work is needed. 'The European Union calls on all industrialised countries to take up their responsibilities in a common effort to succeed in this first step to combat climate change. These countries indeed committed themselves to take the lead in this effort when they ratified the framework convention.'