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EU ready to lead the way to a clean energy future

Greenpeace: EU ready to lead the way to a clean energy future

Strasbourg / Brussels, 27 September 2005 -. The 'Greenpeace Energy Revolution Scenario'(1), launched today by Greenpeace, shows that Europe can phase out nuclear power and, at the same time, reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The electricity sector in the 25 European Union nations is still dominated by large centralised power plants using fossil and nuclear fuels. As much as 80% of Europe's primary energy supply still comes from fossil fuels. The 'Greenpeace Energy Revolution Scenario' shows that half of Europe's energy demand could switch to renewable energy sources and CO2 emissions could be reduced by nearly 75% by 2050. It also shows that, if the EU fails to reform its energy sector however, CO2 emissions will increase by almost 50% by 2050.

"This blueprint maps out how to build a future based on clean, renewable energy sources, independent of imported fossil and nuclear fuels. This will not only protect the climate, it will insulate national economies from the fluctuations of the global markets for fossil and nuclear fuels, benefit the economy and provide secure access to energy for future generations. In the short term, it could also create 700,000 jobs by 2010. Half of Europe's total energy demand could be covered from renewable energy sources by the year 2050," said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International energy expert.

The pathway to a clean energy future requires European governments to:
* set legally binding targets for the use of renewable energy for power, heat and transport
* implement a balanced and timely mobilisation of clean technologies, which will depend on technical potentials, actual costs and cost reduction potentials (2).
* give renewable energy guaranteed and priority access to the grid
* shift their investment away from fossil and nuclear fuels, starting by eliminating direct and indirect subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear power, which would save taxpayers' money (3).

"There is no quick fix when it comes to the power sector - investments and solutions are long-term. Renewable energies have slightly higher costs now, but most of them will be cheaper in less than 15 years. It is also clear that these results can only be achieved in time, if we start this drastic shift in the power sector without any delay," said Teske.

The 'Greenpeace Energy Revolution Scenario' can only be achieved if concrete and ambitious action is taken in energy efficiency measures. The exploitation of existing energy efficiency potentials such as the insulation of houses, the use of "waste-heat" from power plants for district heating instead of discharging it via cooling towers and the efficient use of electricity could reduce the current primary energy demand by more than one third (36%) till 2050. "We don't have to freeze in the dark, we just have to use the produced energy as efficient and intelligent as possible," added Teske.

According to the Greenpeace blueprint, the electricity sector will continue to be the forerunner of renewable energy: In 2050, more than 70% of the electricity is to be produced from renewable energy sources, followed by renewables in the heating sector, which will produce more than half of the needed energy.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Notes to the editor:
(1). Developed by the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics of the German Aerospace Centre 'Energy Revolution: a sustainable pathway to a clean energy future for Europe' is available at:

(2). Without considering the costs for CO2 emissions, the Energy Revolution Scenario will have additional costs for electricity supply to a maximum of 6 billion €/a in 2020 - for all 25 European countries. These additional costs, which represent society's investment in a future environmentally benign, safe, and economic energy supply, continue to decrease after 2020, and by 2050 the annual costs of electricity supply will be 10 billion €/a below the electricity supply costs in the business as usual scenario.

(3). In 2004, the European Environment Agency estimated that energy subsidies in the EU 15 for solid, oil and gas amounted to more than 23.9 billion and for renewable energy to 5.3 billion.

Today, renewable energy sources account for 6% of the EU-25 countries' primary energy production. Biomass, which is used primarily for heating, is the main renewable energy source. The share of renewable energies for electricity generation is 15%, with hydro power plants being the largest source. The contribution of renewables to primary energy demand for heat supply is around 9%.

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