Denmark to push green energy in EU helm

Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:27 AM   |   0 comments

BRUSSELS, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Denmark says it plans a heavy push on green energy initiatives during its six-month stint in the presidency of the European Union.

Danish officials indicated they will translate their championing of renewable energy investments in their own country onto a Europe-wide level during while at the helm of the EU Council of Ministers.

Denmark, as a founding member of the North Seas Offshore Grid Initiative and a leader in wind energy and the use of electric vehicles, has raised hopes of environmentalists that it will do everything it can do strengthen the EU's commitment to meeting 2020 targets for greenhouse gas reductions, the British trade journal Utility Week reported.

Martin Lindgreen, head of department at Denmark's ministry of climate, energy and building, told the publication the Danish presidency will be "extremely heavy" on green energy initiatives.

It will seek "milestones defined or approaches sought for later agreements on renewables and energy efficiency … oil and gas and CCS [carbon capture and storage]," he said.

One area of emphasis, Lindgreen said, will be demanding transparency in energy agreements made between EU members and non-EU countries at a time when Brussels is seeking to assert more control over such deals.

EU energy chief Gunther Oettinger said in September the European Commission will ask for approval of a measure in which the Brussels leadership would have to be notified of any energy sector deal information "before and after" negotiations with third countries.

Under the proposal, if the deals weren't deemed in the best interests of the European Union as a whole or are insufficiently transparent, the commission could sue member states to change the terms.

The goal, he said, is to "improve internal coordination so that the EU and its member states act together and speak with one voice" on issues regarding regional energy security -- and specifically its efforts to lessen dependence on Russia for natural gas.

The proposal would set up communications mechanisms aimed at inserting the European Commission into energy talks between non-EU countries and member states, such as those between Poland, Germany and the Russian company Gazprom over access rights to the Yamal-Europe pipeline.

Lindgreen told Utility Week the Danes are big supporters of more transparency and want to ensure "agreements made with third countries are in accordance with the rules of the EU internal market."

Another priority, he said, is to secure approval for grid infrastructure spending under the EU's ambitious $69 billion "Connecting Europe" financing facility -- $12 billion of which would be used to encourage energy grid projects the EU deems necessary to contribute to the growth of a trans-European infrastructure.

It's also likely Denmark will reopen discussions on the EU's low-carbon energy road map for 2050 with the hopes of establishing deeper carbon dioxide emissions targets -- a discussion that will be at a March 9 European Council environment committee meeting, the British oil and gas trade journal ICIS Heren reported.

The Danish presidency will support a recommendation that the EU set a target of 25 percent reductions from 1990 levels instead of the current 20 percent goal, the report said.

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