On 13 November 2008, the European Commission published its Second Strategic Energy Review which seeks to accomplish the following goals:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Increase the use of renewable energy
- Promote energy efficiency
As part of its review, the Commission has proposed an EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan (Energy Plan).
The Energy Plan looks to build upon the European Union’s Third Package of Energy Legislation (Third Package), first announced in September 2007, by prioritising infrastructure investment, with a particular emphasis on cross-border infrastructure. The infrastructure focus of the Energy Plan will be based around the following:
- Developing connections between the Baltic States and the rest of the European Union with an aim to securing energy supply
- Developing a southern gas corridor to secure energy supply from Caspian and Middle Eastern countries
- Creating a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Action Plan in light of the greater availability of LNG in EU Member States
- Linking Europe and the Southern Mediterranean with electricity and gas connections in order to improve energy security as well as increasing renewable energy potential
- Improving gas and electricity connections in Central and South-Eastern Europe
- Developing a North Sea offshore grid
The Commission has also used the Energy Plan to re-emphasise the role of energy efficiency within the European Union as a substantive priority. It considers energy efficiency to be a sustainable long-term solution to meeting high energy prices and increasing business cost pressures.
By making use of energy efficiency, the Commission hopes to reduce the level of CO2 emissions, promote the use of “home-grown” energy, reduce the European Union’s dependency on imported oil and gas, and minimise the impact of volatile oil prices in light of recent market conditions. Finally, the development of more energy efficient buildings and other technologies is intended to spur the creation of a number of new jobs. The Commission has identified that the European Union is falling short of the energy efficiency levels it should be achieving, and has therefore called for a stronger push in taking this forward, which will include, inter alia, the following:
- Developing a European Energy Efficiency Action Plan (EU Plan), which focuses on the energy efficiency of: (i) products, (ii) buildings and services, (iii) transport, (iv) energy transformation, (v) financing, (vi) energy behaviour and (vii) international partnerships. This is being implemented and should be finished by 2012.
- In addition, EU Member States have drafted their own National Energy Efficiency Action Plans which set forth national strategies on energy efficiency.
- Revising the EU Directive relating to the energy performance of buildings in order to help reduce the 40 per cent proportion of EU consumption and CO2 emissions for which residential and commercial buildings currently account.
- The Commission also has issued guidelines dealing with the implementation of the EU Directive relating to cogeneration. Cogeneration is an energy efficient way of generating electricity and heat at the same time. These guidelines seek to clarify the way in which the quantity of cogeneration-generated electricity can be determined, in addition to removing investment barriers from the relevant energy markets.
International Energy Relations, Oil and Gas Stocks, and Crisis Response Mechanisms
Another of the Commission’s objectives is to enhance the European Union’s relationship within the international energy community. To this end, it is recommending a review of the European Union’s oil stocks legislation to improve reliability on available oil stocks, in addition to clarifying emergency procedures. With regards to gas stocks, the Commission would like to see greater harmonisation of security of supply standards.