Celebrating a decade of renewable energy

 Renewable energies have come a long way over the last decade, growing beyond expectations in some sectors. Now, renewable energies are considered mainstream, but 10 years ago no-one ever thought renewable energies were a serious threat to the conventional, fossil fuels sector.

Speaking at an event organised by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), former MEP Mechtild Rothe said that back then everyone was in favour of renewables, even the nuclear and coal sectors. Arthouros Zervos, President of EREC and EWEA, said that 10 years ago renewable energy leaders were so far away from developing into a concern to the fossil fuel sector that they were considered, “not crazy, but almost”.

Changes in attitude started to filter through as European legislation on increasing the use of renewables became a reality. This political leadership alongside the organisation of renewable energy sectors, the formation of EREC, economies of scale, subsidies from national and regional governments, gas supply interruptions, talk about finite fossil fuels, peak oil and climate change lead to the growth of the sector, Patrick Lambert from the European Commission said at the event celebrating EREC’s 10th anniversary in Brussels.

But our efforts to further expand the sector cannot stop here. While growth targets have been met or even exceeded such as in the wind power and solar photovoltaic sectors, MEP Claude Turmes urged policy makers to ensure the proper implementation of the 2020 renewable energy targets, while Zervos emphasised the need to engage beyond 2020.

Turmes and Zervos’ opinions seemed to be reflected in European Commissioner for Energy Günter Oettinger’s words – he highlighted the need to implement the 2020 targets “in spirit and to the letter” while also mentioning the need for a vision to 2050. Moreover, Oettinger highlighted the need for greater research and innovation funding.

Let’s hope the sector continues to grow beyond our expectations, reaching 100% renewables by 2050.

By Eleanor Smith, European Renewable Energy Council, blog.ewea.org