Proceedings of the
Second International Energy 2030 Conference,
November 4-5, 2008, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Clean and Sustainable Energy Supply –
The European Approach
Prof. Dr. – Ing. Klaus R. G. Hein
University of Stuttgart, Germany
The European Union (E.U.) is a multinational and intergovernmental union, established in 1992 by the Treaty of Maastricht, The Netherlands, with the intention to promote the economical and political integration of the member states. The present union is the successor of the s.c. Common Market, the European Economic Community (E.E.C.), founded in 1957 as a supranational association with the purpose of enhancing the economic cooperation of the first 6 members Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy and West Germany. In the following years this community became enlarged by new partners - Denmark, Ireland and Great Britain in 1973, Greece in 1981, Portugal and Spain in 1986 - forming the first E.U. of 12 member states in 1993. Ten more partners gained accession to the union in 2004 (Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia), followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, which brought the total present number of member states to 27.
The E.U. represents a single market with no internal barriers, a common trade policy and an own currency adopted so far by already half of its members. Despite of still very strong and historically based gradients in industrial development and economy, in particular between the early partner countries in Western Europe and the more recent new member states of Centre and Eastern Europe, the economy in the European Union has grown steadily over the last decade, resulting in a total GDP increase of almost 48% since 1996. Thus, the E.U. has developed up to today into one of the largest economical and political units in the world.
In line with the economic growth in the E.U., the expected rise in gross energy consumption during the last decade was with 12.1% comparatively low, which – at a marginal population increase of about 2.3% – resulted in a reduction of the energy intensity of more than 11% . This positive tendency is due to both savings in direct use of primary energy sources, and an increasing application of more efficient energy conversion processes and, thus, the specific consumption per inhabitant is – in comparison with similarly advanced regions of the world – much lower, for example less than half of that of the U.S.A.
In more detail, the gross inland consumption of energy in the E.U. is with more than 77% essentially based on fossil fuels (37.3% oil, 23.9% natural gas, 17.9% solid fuels), with only 14.6% nuclear energy and 6.3% renewable sources. Furthermore noteworthy is – as in most industrialized regions of the world – the remarkable move towards the conversion of primary energy into electricity as the most versatile form of usable energy. Between 1994 and today, the electricity generation in the E.U. increased by more than 25%, which is much in excess of the rise of the total energy consumption of 12.1% during the same period.
The above stated energy consumption is in contrast with an own total production of primary energy carriers which is insufficient to cover the demand. Therefore, there is today a dependence on energy imports of on average approximately 50%.