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REN21 10 Years Report

27 01 12th Five-Year Plan (2011 – 2015)—launched in 2010—identi- fied renewables as a so-called Strategic Emerging Industry for the first time. n MAIN CHALLENGES FOR RENEWABLES Over 20 million people annually move from China’s rural areas to its large cities. Electrification programs for rural areas as well as energy and infrastructural technologies for mega-cities are of huge importance. Renewable energy needs to grow faster than the socio-economic megatrends of the country, representing a major challenge for the expansion of know-how, energy markets, and training of a workforce skilled in operation and maintenance as well as energy infrastructure development. Rapid expansion can also cause quality problems which in turn increases the operation and maintenance costs of renewable energy projects. EUROPE n GENERAL OVERVIEW Throughout the last decade, Europe was at the forefront of renewable energy policy design and deployment, developing a strong and vibrant renewable energy industry. Europe’s binding target of a 20% share of total final energy from renewables by 2020, coupled with feed-in-tariffs and other strong support poli- cies predating 2004, have been instrumental in making Europe a global leader in renewable energy. While the European example has inspired many countries throughout the world, renewable energy targets have been revised downwards and support has been reduced in several European countries, sometimes retroactively. This has occurred especially in countries with high shares of renewables in the power system, where they are directly competing with incum- bent fossil and nuclear sources, in answer to declining electricity demand resulting from the economic slowdown and an overca- pacity of conventional and nuclear power. With its Climate and Energy Policy, the European Union has been a front-runner in international renewable energy policy design for the 2020 horizon. Current discussions on a 2030/2050 renew- able energy policy framework are ongoing; the outcome of these discussions will give an indication as to whether the European Union will manage to keep its leading position in international renewable energy development. n MAIN DRIVERS FOR RENEWABLES The European Union’s energy sector is based mainly on fossil fuels, almost two-thirds of which are imported. If the current trends continue, import levels will reach more than 70% of the European Union’s overall energy needs by 2030. The develop- ment of renewable energy sources began with the 1970 oil crises and the stark realisation that fossil resources would, one day, run out. Additionally the European Union acknowledged that suc- cessful development of the renewable energy sector required strong, continued and smart political commitment. Five years after the 1992 Earth Summit, climate change was at the center of international debate in advance of the upcoming Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in Kyoto, Japan, December 1997. The European Union recognised the urgent need to tackle climate change. It also adopted a negotiating position of a 15% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for industrialised countries by the year 2010, down from 1990 levels. To facilitate European Union Member States attainment of this objective, the Commission, through its 1997 Communication on the Energy Dimension of Climate Change, identified a series of energy actions, including a prominent role for renewables. Together with the binding 20% renewable energy target by 2020, the EU also adopted a target of 20% improvement in the EU’s energy efficiency as well as a 20% greenhouse gas reduction tar- get (respectively 30%, if other industrialised countries commit to similar ambitions) by 2020. n RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY DEVELOPMENT Development of renewable energy has for some time been a central component of European energy policy; as early as 1986 the European Council listed the promotion of renewable energy sources among its energy objectives. The 1997 Communication from the Commission “Energy for the Future: renewable energy sources – White Paper for a Community Strategy and Action Plan” set an indicative target of doubling the share of renewable energy of the European Union’s overall gross internal energy consumption from 6% to 12% by 2010, an ambitious but realistic objective. Further to the Commission’s White Paper, a European legislative framework to promote renewable energy was established in the electricity and the transport sector, with two specific European Commission directives that established growth targets for renewable energy in these respective areas, both at the commu- nity and national levels, as well as a series of specific measures

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