Could the European Union become a world leader in energy transition?

March 21, 2018

Hat: Could the European Union become a world leader in energy transition?

Funding Scheme: 2018-03-21


The European Union is today in a favourable position to become world leader in energy transition. Despite the points of strength, some progress remains to be done.


Nowadays, the European Union has to overcome the great challenge of the energy transition on its territory combining secure supply and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

This is the time to take control of the situation in order to be in a position of world leader in energy transition, especially with the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreements and China that wants to take advantage of it.

Thus, in 2014, the European Union adopted the 2030 energy-climate package, setting as its objectives a reduction in greenhouse emissions of at least 40% in Europe, the use of 27% renewable energies in the energy mix and efficient energy management. In addition, support mechanisms for structures wishing to implement renewable energy projects have been set up, such as Horizon 2020, the EEPR (European Energy Program for Recovery) and the EEEF (European Energy Efficiency Fund).

Since some years, we can observe significant progress. Renewable electricity production is constantly growing: in 2015, 20% of electricity came from renewable resources compared to only 10% in 2004. Some countries such as Sweden, Austria, Croatia and Denmark already have percentages above 50%.

Nevertheless, there are still some improvements to make. Companies working for the energy transition face difficulties to develop on a European scale because of the diversity of national regulations. Other obstacles are slowing down the development of these energies:  wind and solar energy are particularly difficult to transport and store, forcing consumption in real time. Similarly, wind farms face salt corrosion problems.

The energy transition remains an issue. The 2030 energy-climate package will probably not be enough to see a significant change in the EU. According to France Stratégie, to achieve leadership in energy transition, the EU should implement four flagship initiatives: 1/ Establishing a single carbon price at European level. 2/ Developing common or more integrated regulations allowing a common internal and external energy policy. 3/ Supporting even more R&D in the energy transition sector at European level.  4/ Increasing the existing funding allocations to support targeted initiatives.

For example, could France, which relies essentially on nuclear energy, find common interests with Germany and Sweden?