Renewable energy in the European Union
The countries of the European Union are the number two global leaders in the development and application of renewable energy. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources is important both to the reduction of the EU's dependence on foreign energy imports, and in meeting targets to combat global warming.
- 1 Policy
- 2 Member states
- 3 Renewable energy sectors
- 4 Economics
- 5 Statistics
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Maastricht Treaty set an objective of promoting stable growth while protecting the environment. The Amsterdam Treaty added the principle of sustainable development to the objectives of the EU. Since 1997, the EU has been working towards a renewable energy supply equivalent to 12% of the total EU's energy consumption by 2010.
The Johannesburg Summit failed to introduce the radical changes targeted for ten years after the Rio Summit. No specific goals were set for the energy sector, which disappointed many countries. While the EU had proposed an annual increase in the use of renewable energy at a rate of 1.5% worldwide until 2010, Johannesburg's action plan did not recommend such a "substantial" increase, with no concrete goals nor dates being set.
The EU was unwilling to accept this result and with other nations formed a group of "pioneer countries" that promised to establish ambitious national or even regional goals to achieve global targets. The Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition (JREC) has a total of more than 80 member countries; the EU members, Brazil, South Africa and New Zealand amongst them.
In the European Conference for Renewable Energy in Berlin in 2004, the EU defined ambitious goals of its own. The conclusion was that by 2020, the EU would seek to obtain 20% of its total energy consumption requirements with renewable energy sources. Up until that point, the EU had only set targets up to 2010, and this proposal was the first to represent the EU's commitment up to 2020.
Renewable energy targets
EU leaders reached agreement in principle in March 2007 that 20 percent of the bloc's final energy consumption should be produced from renewable energy sources and by 2020 as part of its drive to cut emissions of carbon dioxide. Today, renewables account for less than 7 percent of the EU energy mix. In a special report, the European Parliament said that to give the legislation teeth, it should contain binding renewable energy targets for particular sectors – electricity, heating & cooling and transport – rather than just a general goal. The parliament said it would resist any attempt to treat nuclear energy as a substitute for renewables.
In November 2010, Eurobarometer polled all EU member states (twenty-seven at the time) about the target "to increase the share of renewable energy in the EU by 20 percent by 2020". Majorities in all twenty-seven countries either approved the target or called for it to go further. Across the EU, 57 percent thought the proposed goal was "about right" and 16 percent thought it was "too modest." Just 19 percent said it was "too ambitious".
Renewable Energy Directive
The Directive on renewable energy sets binding targets for all EU Member States, such that the EU will reach a 20% share of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and a 10% share of renewable energy specifically in the transport sector. (Directive 2009/28/EC of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources)
It also improves the legal framework for promoting renewable electricity, requires national renewable energy action plans (NREAPs) that establish pathways for the development of renewable energy sources including bioenergy, creates cooperation mechanisms to help achieve the targets cost effectively and establishes sustainability criteria for biofuels.
The Directive should be implemented by Member States by December 2010, although actual implementation has lagged behind schedule in many Member States. Article 22 of the Directive, requires Member States to submit Progress Reports explaining their implementation of the Directive and their progress towards their targets.
Links to climate policy
Underlying many of the EU's energy policy proposals is the goal to limit global temperature changes to no more than 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, of which 0.8 °C has already taken place and another 0.5–0.7 °C (for total warming of 1.3-1.5 °C) is already committed. 2 °C is usually seen as the upper temperature limit to avoid 'dangerous global warming'. However some scientists, such as Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester and former director of the Tyndall Centre, the UK's leading academic climate change research organisation, have argued that to be consistent with the science, 1 °C is a more accurate threshold for "dangerous" climate change.
EU energy efficiency and renewable energy actions includes:
- BUILD UP
- The Covenant of Mayors
- Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign
- Intelligent Energy – Europe (IEE)
- U4energy is an initiative funded under the IEE programme to improve energy consumption in schools and their local communities.
|This section requires expansion. (May 2008)|
Article 4 of the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) requires Member States to submit national renewable energy action plans by 30 June 2010. These plans, to be prepared in accordance with the template published by the Commission, provide detailed roadmaps of how each Member State expects to reach its legally binding 2020 target for the share of renewable energy in their final energy consumption. Member States must set out the sectoral targets, the technology mix they expect to use, the trajectory they will follow and the measures and reforms they will undertake to overcome the barriers to developing renewable energy. The plans are published by the EC upon receipt in the original language, allowing public scrutiny. The Commission will evaluate them, assessing their completeness and credibility. In parallel, the plans will be translated into English. In addition, the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands was contracted by the European Environment Agency to create an external database and quantitative report of the reports received so far.
The Member States which joined the EU in 2004 must apply the provisions of Directive 2001/77/EC on producing electricity from renewable energy sources. Their Accession Treaty sets national indicative targets for the proportion of electricity produced from RES (RES-E) in each new Member State the result of which is an overall objective of 21% for the EU-25.
The Member States must adopt and publish, initially every five years, a report setting the indicative Member State targets for future RES-E consumption for the following ten years and showing what measures have or are to be taken to meet those targets. The Member State targets must take account of the reference values set out in the Annex to the Directive for Member States' indicative targets concerning the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in gross electricity consumption in 2010. They must also be compatible with all the national commitments entered into as part of the commitments accepted by the Community in Kyoto.
At the end of 2012 renewable energy in Germany provided about 22.9% of Germany's electricity production, with the largest contribution being made by wind power.
At the end of 2011 renewable energy sources accounted for almost 25% of the electricity production in Italy.
Lithuania however has many yet undeveloped renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal energy, municipal waste, and biomass. The amount of biomass per capita in Lithuania at the moment is the second highest in the European Union and it is estimated that in 2020 Lithuania will be the first in the EU according to the quantity of available biomass for biofuel production. The projected production of biofuels by 2020 in tons per capita are as follows: Lithuania - 0.25; Latvia – 0.23; Denmark - 0.22; France - 0.19; Estonia - 0.18; Hungary - 0.17; Czech Republic - 0.16; Spain - 0.14; Poland - 0.13; Sweden - 0.12; Ireland - 0.12; Greece - 0.09; Austria - 0.09; Germany - 0.08; Bulgaria - 0.08; Romania - 0.07; Italy - 0.06; Slovakia - 0.06; Slovenia - 0.05; United Kingdom - 0.05; Belgium - 0.04; Portugal - 0.04; Netherlands - 0.03; Finland - 0.2; Luxembourg – 0; the Cyprus – 0; Malta – 0.
In 2010, more than 50% of all yearly electricity consumption in Portugal was generated from renewable energy sources. The most important generation sources were hydroelectric (30%) and wind power (18%), with bioenergy (5%) and photovoltaic solar power (0,5%) accounting for the rest. In 2001, the Portuguese government launched a new energy policy instrument – the E4 Programme (Energy Efficiency and Endogenous Energies), consisting of a set of multiple, diversified measures aimed at promoting a consistent, integrated approach to energy supply and demand. By promoting energy efficiency and the use of endogenous (renewable) energy sources, the programme seeks to upgrade the competitiveness of the Portuguese economy and to modernize the country’s social fabric, while simultaneously preserving the environment by reducing gas emissions, especially the CO2 responsible for climatic change. As a result, in the five years between 2005 and 2010, energy production from renewable sources increased 28%.
Portugal has the second largest photovoltaic power station in the world, which was completed in December 2008. The complex, called Amareleja photovoltaic power station, covers an area of 250-hectare. The 46-megawatt solar power plant produces enough electricity for 30,000 homes and saves more than 89,383 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions. Also in production since January 2007, the Serpa solar power plant with an installed capacity 11MW, covers an area of 60-hectare, produces enough energy for 8,000 homes and saves more than 30,000 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions. These solar parks are approximately 30 km apart.
Spain as a whole has the target of generating 30% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2010, with half of that amount coming from wind power. In 2006, 20% of the total electricity demand was already produced with renewable energy sources, and in January 2009 the total electricity demand produced with renewable energy sources reached 34.8%.
Some regions of Spain lead Europe in the use of renewable energy technology and plan to reach 100% renewable energy generation in few years. Castilla y León and Galicia, in particular, are near this goal. In 2006 they fulfilled about 70% of their total electricity demand from renewable energy sources.
If nuclear power is also considered CO2 free, two autonomous communities in Spain have already managed to fulfill their total 2006 electricity demand "free" of CO2 emissions: Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha.
In 2005 Spain became the first country in the world to require the installation of photovoltaic electricity generation in new buildings, and the second in the world (after Israel) to require the installation of solar hot water systems.
By 2004 4.65% of the UK's electricity requirements were being generated from renewable energy sources (including hydroelectricity), up from 2.55% in 1990. This figure rose to 8.7% by 2011. The total contribution of renewable energy to all energy consumption in the UK was 3.8% in 2011. This comprised 8.7% of electricity, 2.2% of heat and 2.9% of transport fuel coming from renewable sources. UK Government energy policy set a target for renewable electricity to provide 10% of all electricity use by 2010. This target was not met. The UK has agreed to the EU wide renewable energy target of 20% of all energy to come from renewables by 2020, in line with the EU 2009 Renewable Energy Directive. The UK's specific target is to achieve 15% of all energy from renewables. The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced that the UK will attempt to meet this target with 30% renewable electricity, 12% renewable heat and 10% renewable transport fuel. As of 2010[update][dated info], the UK was 25th of the 27 EU Member States in terms of the fraction of energy produced from renewables.
The prospects for renewable energy in Scotland in particular are significant. Scotland has an estimated potential of 36.5 GW of installed capacity from wind and 7.5 GW from tidal power, 25% of the estimated total capacity for the European Union for both, and up to 14 GW of wave power potential, 10% of EU capacity. The Scottish Government has a target of generating 17% to 18% of Scotland's electricity from renewables by 2010, rising to 40% by 2020.
Renewable energy sectors
Britain's first major bioethanol plant should be completed by the middle of 2009 and should use more than one million tonnes of wheat per year. The plant, in Wilton, northeast England, will be Europe's largest biorefinery, producing around 400 million to 450 million litres of bioethanol a year as well as 350,000 tonnes of animal feed. Currently the largest plant in the UK is a British Sugar facility in eastern England with an annual production capacity of about 70 million litres.
|This section requires expansion. (March 2009)|
In 2011, installed Wind power capacity in the European Union totalled 93,957 megawatts (MW) - enough to supply 6.3% of the EU's electricity. 9,616 MW of wind power was installed in 2011 alone, representing 21.4% of new power capacity. The EU wind industry has had an average annual growth of 15.6% over the last 17 years (1995-2011).
A European Environment Agency report, entitled Europe's onshore and offshore wind energy potential confirms wind energy could power Europe many times over. The report highlights wind power’s potential in 2020 as three times greater than Europe’s expected electricity demand, rising to a factor of seven by 2030.
The EWEA estimates that 230 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity will be installed in Europe by 2020, consisting of 190 GW onshore and 40 GW offshore. This would produce 14-17% of the EU's electricity, avoiding 333 million tonnes of CO2 per year and saving Europe €28 billion a year in avoided fuel costs.
Research from a wide variety of sources in various European countries shows that support for wind power is consistently about 80 per cent amongst the general public.
Photovoltaic solar power
The need for the strategic development of photovoltaic systems in the EU has led to the creation of PV-NET, a network that gathers representatives from all the sectors of the research and development community concerned with the photovoltaic solar energy industry (see solar cell). The network promotes communication between speakers through the organisation of specialised conferences, workshops and congresses.
This interaction has led to the editing of a waybill, finished in 2003 with the aim of providing a solid basis for EU leaders and European citizens to base their decisions and policy making and in order to help reach the objective set by the European Commission to multiply the use of photovoltaic systems by thirty times by 2010.
In 2002, the world production of photovoltaic modules surpassed 550 MW, of which more than the 50% was produced in the EU. At the end of 2004, 79% of all European capacity was in Germany, where 794 MWp had been installed. The European Commission anticipates that Germany may have installed around 4,500 MWp by 2010.
Solar heating and cooling
Solar heating is the usage of solar energy to provide space or water heating. Worldwide the use was 88 GWthermal (2005). Growth potential is enormous. At present the EU is second after China in the installations. If all EU countries used solar thermal as enthusiastically as the Austrians, the EU’s installed capacity would already be 91 GWth (130 million m2 today, far beyond the target of 100 million m2 by 2010, set by the White Paper in 1997). In 2005 solar heating in the EU was equivalent to more than 686.000 tons of oil. ESTIF’s minimum target is to produce solar heating equivalent to 5.600.000 tons of oil (2020). A more ambitious, but feasible, target is 73 millions tons of oil per year (2020) – a lorry row spanning 1.5 times around the globe.
The research efforts and infrastructure needed to supply 50% of the energy for space and water heating and cooling across Europe using solar thermal energy has been set out under the aegis of the European Solar Thermal Technology Platform (ESTTP). Published in late December 2008, more than 100 experts developed the strategic research agenda (SRA), which includes a deployment roadmap showing the non-technological framework conditions that will enable this ambitious goal to be reached by 2050.
The world's first commercial wave farm is located at the Aguçadora Wave Park near Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal. The farm which uses three Pelamis P-750 machines was officially opened in 2008 by the Portuguese minister for the economy. A second phase of the project is now planned to increase the installed capacity from 2.25MW to 21MW using a further 25 machines.
Funding for a wave farm in Scotland using four Pelamis machines was announced on 20 February 2007 by the Scottish Executive. The funding of just over £4 million is part of a £13 million funding package for marine power in Scotland. The farm, is to be located at the European Marine Test Centre (EMEC) off the coast of Orkney and will have an installed capacity of 3MW.
The European Commission is currently sponsoring a practical programme of vehicle trials for battery powered vehicles. The most ambitious projects are the €1 million CUTE (Clean Urban Transport for Europe) scheme and the ECTOS (Ecological City Transport System).
The tests are taking place in the cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Porto, Reykjavík, Stockholm and Stuttgart. It consists of putting into service public buses, called Citaro, manufactured by DaimlerChrysler.
The renewable energy industry have offered new work opportunities in the EU during 2005–2009.
|Jobs by the renewable
energy industry in the EU
In 2012, the use of intermittent renewable energy caused, according to the German newspaper Der Spiegel, increasing electricity prices and grid instability induced power outages, created by renewable energy usage. It is also claimed by German heavy industry spokesmen that this has forced their industries to close, move overseas, and resulted in the loss of German heavy industry jobs.
Installed wind power capacity
|EU Wind Energy Capacity (MW)|
- total installed wind power in Croatia is 229MW with 180MW in operation as of late 2011 and 49MW awaiting connection to the national grid, Croatia also generates additional 32.7MW of solar energy, with planned output of 320MW for wind and solar by the end of 2013 and 1GW by the end of 2015. As of early 2013 Croatia generates around 15.8% renewable energy, Government hopes Croatia can generate around 35% of all its energy from wind and solar by 2020 and has adopted new strategy to achieve that target. By April 2014, Croatia hopes to generates 404MW of Electricity from Wind and 45MW from Solar or around 17% of Total energy consumption of Croatia with 20% EU target for renewable energy easily reached by mid to late 2015.
Total installed capacity
|PV in Europe (MWpeak)|
Installed capacity per capita
|PV per capita 2012 |
|Country||Total (2010)||Total (2009)||Total (2008)||add 2006||add 2005||add 2004|
|Germany||9,676,800||8,896,300||7,765,800||1 050 000||665 000||525 000|
|Greece||2,858,940||2,851,940||2,707,740||168 000||154 350||150 500|
|Austria||2,685,556||2,517,812||2,268,231||204 868||163 429||127 816|
|Italy||1,870,211||1,404,361||1 124 361||130 200||88 941||68 417|
|Spain||1,474,806||1,261,516||987,816||122 500||74 760||63 000|
|France||1,101,730||1,371,370||1,136,870||154 000||85 050||36 400|
|Cyprus||500,515||514,640||485,240||42 000||35 000||21 000|
|Portugal||470,888||345,338||223,265||14 000||11 200||7 000|
|Poland||459,123||356,902||255,973||28 980||19 390||20 230|
|UK||401,254||332,514||270,144||37 800||19 600||17 500|
|Denmark||367,602||330,946||292,796||17 710||14 875||14 000|
|Netherlands||313,317||285,139||254,339||10 280||14 174||18 410|
|Belgium||229,703||203,593||188,263||24 945||14 164||10 290|
|Sweden||226,615||217,362||202,445||19 977||15 835||14 041|
|Czech Republic||215,863||147,854||115,570||15 421||10 885||8 575|
|Slovenia||122,710||111,510||96,110||4 830||3 360||1 260|
|Ireland||92,042||75,432||52,080||3 500||2 450||1 400|
|Slovakia||85,225||76,125||66,675||5 950||5 250||3 850|
|* = The relation between collector area and capacity: m2 = 0.7 kWthermal|
|Consumption 2005 (GWh)||Consumption 2006 (GWh)||Consumption 2007 (GWh)|
|8||Italy||2 059||1,732||1,732||0||1,621||1 621||0|
|*Total includes vegetable oils in Germany: 7309 GWh (2006) and 2018 GWh (2005) and biogas in Sweden: 225 GWh (2006) and 160 GWh (2005), n.a. = not available|
- List of energy storage projects
- List of renewable energy topics by country
- Climate change in the European Union
- Economy of the European Union
- EKOenergy ecolabel for energy
- Environment in the European Union
- Eugene Green Energy Standard
- European Energy Research Alliance
- European Renewable Energy Council
- European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
- European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER)
- Fraunhofer Society
- Intelligent Energy Europe
- Renewable energy commercialization
- Renewable energy development
- Renewables Directive
- Transport in the European Union
- Joanna Krzeminska, Are Support Schemes for Renewable Energies Compatible with Competition Objectives? An Assessment of National and Community Rules, Yearbook of European Environmental Law (Oxford University Press), Volume VII, Nov. 2007, p. 125
In the media
- 11 September 1999, The Guardian: Renewable energy across Europe
- 23 March 2007, The BBC: EU environmental achievements by Commissioner Dimas.
- EurActiv, EU renewable energy policy, August 02, 2007.
- News and Official EP resolution of 25 September 2007 on the Road Map for Renewable Energy in Europe
- "Large Majorities in US and Europe Endorse Focus on Renewable Energy". World Public Opinion. January 18, 2012.
- New EU energy plan – more security, less pollution, press release by European Commission
- Oliver Geden (2013), Modifying the 2°C Target. Climate Policy Objectives in the Contested Terrain of Scientific Policy Advice, Political Preferences, and Rising Emissions, SWP Research Paper 5
- Samuel Randalls (2010), History of the 2 °C climate target, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp. 598–605, July/August 2010
- [Prof Kevin Anderson, past climate danger, in denial YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32HfnxIDLLA] Nov 18, 2012
- [The Truth About Global Warming: Brutal Numbers, Tenuous Hope http://vimeo.com/39555673] Cabot Institute Annual Lecture, 2012
- Renewable energy in Lithuania
- [Lithuanian Renewable Energy Promotion Action Plan 2010-2020 years. 2008. Applied research. Vilnius. 215]
- Nation Bureau for Geology and Energy, Energias Renováveis - Estatísticas Rápidas de fevereiro de 2011 (in Portuguese)
- ROSENTHAL, ELISABETH (August 9, 2010). "Portugal Gives Itself a Clean-Energy Makeover". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
- http://ww1.rtp.pt/noticias/?article=379834&visual=26&tema=4 ww1.rtp.pt
- Las renovables ahorraron en enero 90 millones de euros en importaciones de gas, Energías-Renovables.com, (Spanish)
-  Red Eléctrica de España Annual Report 2006
- "Layout 1". Ren21.net. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- RSPB Scotland, WWF Scotland and FOE Scotland (February 2006) The Power of Scotland: Cutting Carbon with Scotland's Renewable Energy. RSPB et al.
- A Scottish Energy Review (November 2005) Scottish National Party Framework Paper. Edinburgh.
- Scotland Gov. News Dec
- Scotland Gov. News 2003
- Major UK biofuel plant seen operating by mid-2009[dead link]
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- EWEA (2012). "Wind in power: 2011 European statistics".
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- "EEA report confirms wind energy could power Europe many times over". Eolic Energy News. 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
- "The Social Acceptance of Wind Energy". European Commission.
- http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/sectors/photovoltaic_en.htm ec.europa.eu
- Solar Thermal Action Plan for Europe ESTIF, 1/2007[dead link]
- "European Solar Thermal Technology Platform". ESTTP. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "Single News Item – News". ESTIF. 19 December 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "Action Plan for 50%: How Solar Thermal Can Supply Europe's Energy | Renewable Energy News Article". Renewableenergyworld.com. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "Portal do Governo". Portugal.gov.pt. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- Lima, Joao (23 September 2008). "Babcock, EDP and Efacec to Collaborate on Wave Energy Projects". Bloomberg. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- "Orkney to get 'biggest' wave farm". BBC News. 20 February 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Jobs provided by RES Industry in the EU (2005–2009) EREC 2010
- EWEA Staff (2010). "Cumulative installed capacity per EU Member State 1998 - 2009 (MW)". European Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- EWEA Staff (February 2011). "EWEA Annual Statistics 2010". European Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- EWEA Staff (February 2012). "EWEA Annual Statistics 2011". European Wind Energy Association. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
- EWEA: "Wind in power: 2012 European statistics", February 2013
- Photovoltaic energy barometer 2007 – EurObserv’ER Systèmes solaires Le journal des énergies renouvelables n° 178, p. 49-70, 4/2007
- Photovoltaic energy barometer 2009 – EurObserv’ER Systèmes solaires Le journal des énergies renouvelables n° 190, p. 72-102, 3/2009
- Photovoltaic energy barometer 2010 – EurObserv’ER
- Photovoltaic energy barometer 2011 – EurObserv’ER
- Photovoltaic energy barometer 2012
- Solar Thermal Markets in Europe, Trends and market statistics 2006 European Solar Thermal Industry Federation ESTIF, June 2007
- "Solar Thermal Markets in Europe, Trends and market statistics 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 24 April 2011.
- Solar Thermal Markets in Europe, Trends and market statistics 2009[dead link]http://www.estif.org/fileadmin/estif/content/market_data/downloads/2010%20European%20Solar%20Thermal%20Markets.pdf Solar Thermal Markets in Europe, Trends and market statistics 2010
- since 2010 overseas departments excluded
- Biofuels barometer 2007 – EurObserv’ER Systèmes solaires Le journal des énergies renouvelables n° 179, s. 63–75, 5/2007
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Renewable energy in the European Union.|
- Eurostat - Statistics Explained - Renewable energy statistics
- Europe's Energy Portal European platform for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
- ManagEnergy, for energy efficiency and renewable energies at the local and regional level.
- Reegle: Information Gateway For Renewable Energy And Energy Efficiency
- 34% from renewables in the EU by 2020?
- REPAP2020 Project: Renewable energy policy action paving the way towards 2020
- All EurObserv'ER barometers - The state of renewable energies in Europe
- European Renewable Energy Council
- European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources "Members of Parliament for a Sustainable Energy Future"
- European Federation of Regional Energy and Environment Agencies (FEDARENE).
- European Future Energy Forum
- European Commission-Energy