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Green Paper on renewable energy sources

The European Commission has adopted a Green Paper entitled "Energy for the future: Renewable sources of energy", with the aim of launching a debate on a European strategy and action plan for increasing the market penetration of these important energy sources.

The Green Paper ...
The European Commission has adopted a Green Paper entitled "Energy for the future: Renewable sources of energy", with the aim of launching a debate on a European strategy and action plan for increasing the market penetration of these important energy sources.

The Green Paper analyses the current situation, describes the advantages of renewables for the European Union, identifies the obstacles hindering their wider use, and puts forward ideas for a focused policy framework for action. The European Commission will present a comprehensive strategy for renewable energy sources in 1997. This will take the form of a White Paper with an Action Plan to implement it.

The Green Paper puts forward a number of suggestions to be included in a European Union strategy:

- The setting of a clear, ambitious, and yet realistic, objective for increasing the contribution of renewable sources of energy to the European Union's energy balance as a way of stimulating action. If the Union could double the current contribution from these sources by 2010, reaching 12%, this would result in very significant reductions of CO2 emissions (almost 400 millions tonnes per year), as well as other benefits;

- The strengthening of policies, at both Member State and European Union level, and improved coordination and cooperation on renewable energy sources in order to achieve a significant market penetration of renewables. This necessitates the reinforcement of several policies affecting the development of renewable sources of energy (e.g. fiscal, research, regional, agricultural, environmental, external and energy policies).

The policy measures identified in the Green Paper are aimed at counteracting the obstacles to a more widespread use of renewable energy sources. Although technological development in the field of renewables has, in recent years, been significant and many of the technologies either are, or are becoming, economically viable, renewable sources of energy are currently unevenly and insufficiently exploited in the European Union.

The obstacles are primarily related to market imperfections and to the fact that the prices of conventional fuels do not reflect the full environmental cost they impose on society.
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