Towards a Community action programme for renewable energy sources
On 21 March 1997, the European Commission hosted a conference on the theme "Towards a Community action programme for renewable energy sources". The conference was organized by the Commission within the context of the public debate launched by the its Green Paper "Energy for the future - Renewable sources of energy". The Green Paper, adopted by the European Commission on 20 November 1996, launched a debate on a European Union strategy and action plan aimed at increasing the market penetration of renewable energy sources. With this Green Paper, the European Commission gave a political signal to stimulate action for promoting energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and small hydropower. Currently these renewable energy sources are far from being used to their full potential and make a disappointingly small contribution of less than 6% to the European Union's energy balance. The Green Paper analyses the current situation, describes the advantages of renewable energy sources for the European Union, identifies the obstacles hindering their wider use, and puts forward ideas for a focused policy framework for action. The main purpose of the conference was to solicit the views of all interested parties in order to help the Commission in the preparation of a White Paper on this issue and an Action Plan for Renewable Energy, due to be presented later this year. It brought together around 200 key decision makers actively involved in the promotion of renewable energy sources. Participants included representatives from the European Parliament, national governments, industry and the energy sector. The conference was opened by Mr. Christos Papoutsis, European Commissioner responsible for energy policy, who confirmed the Commission's commitment to promoting the use of renewable energy sources in Europe. The Commissioner stressed the importance of renewable energy in relation to environmental concerns (notably the proposed target for the reduction of CO2 emissions), security of supply and stimulation of the competitiveness of European industry. More specifically, he proposed an indicative target for the share of renewables in gross inland energy consumption of 12% (as compared to the current 6%).