Günther Oettinger named as new Energy Commissioner

The new Energy Commissioner will be Günther Oettinger, current Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg in Germany. Since 2005, when Oettinger became President of Baden-Württemberg, the Land has raised its targets for renewable energy.

In 2007, the Land’s target for renewables was raised to 20% of electricity by 2020, up from 11.8% in 2006. Nonetheless, there is still very little wind energy production in the region; wind currently provides less than 0.5% of electricity – a level well below the EU average.

“The renewable energy targets have improved under Oettinger’s presidency, but the level of wind energy is still low,” Christian Kjaer, Chief Executive of the European Wind Energy Association, said. “Wind has a huge potential for CO2-free electricity generation.”

“Given the challenges lying ahead in meeting the EU’s 20% by 2020 target for renewable energy, I am absolutely confident we will build a very constructive working relationship with Oettinger. I have no doubt he appreciates the vast contribution that wind power can make to the security of Europe’s energy supply, job creation and combating global warming.”

Barroso also nominated Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, Connie Hedegaard to the new ‘climate action’ portfolio. Hedegaard will host the COP15 talks in Copenhagen this December. “She will be in her element in the new role,” Kjaer said. “Hedegaard will need no convincing on the power of wind energy to fight climate change,” Kjaer said. Over 20% of Denmark’s electricity demand is met by wind power.

The new Commission must win approval from the European Parliament before it takes its seats for a term of office running until 31 October 2014. Hearings at the European Parliament will take place from 11-19 January. The final vote on the new Commission is on 26 January.