In the lead up to our Visualizing Energy Forum & Exhibition taking place during the EU Sustainable Energy Week, Revolve is presenting a series of insights with key European thought leaders. To start this series, we talked with MEP Bendt Bendtsen of Denmark about Europe’s role in the energy transition, the challenges facing the EU’s energy transformation, and ideas for implementing current technologies.
How is Europe leading the energy transition?
A progressive and holistic policy framework in Europe establishes EU’s global leadership in the transition to sustainable energy. We have committed to international agreements, and through our policy framework we both commit and enable our industries, our consumers, and our transport sectors to contribute to the transition. We are at the forefront when it comes to funding for research and innovation in new technologies, and we have built a solid backbone of businesses excelling in technologies to help the energy transition.
What are the biggest challenges for the transformation of the European energy system?
The process of transitioning to sustainable energy is no easy task in a forum of 28 states, all of whom have to agree on a common path. It entails regional cooperation in heterogeneous energy markets with a differentiated mix of energy sources, which presents a big challenge. Time is also a factor, and some green technologies need to mature more in order be competitive with traditional energy sources. Naturally, sustainable technologies need to be cost-competitive eventually, but all technologies have – at some point – relied on a push of public prioritization to get there. And sustainable energy sources are currently taking major steps in the right direction.
How can Europe accelerate the consolidation of the internal EU energy market?
The Member States must look down the road, and not just at the current picture of the internal market. While we must use all available tools to secure energy independence for Europe, it is clear that electrification of the energy market is on the way, which holds great potential for securing a consolidated internal market. We just have to ensure that this goes hand in hand with an enhanced share of renewables in the electricity grid, which can only be done by enhanced cooperation between Member States.
What technologies are pivotal to the energy transition?
I believe the clearest path to sustainable energy in Europe is through energy efficiency. I will not point to one technology over another, but it is clear that the cheapest energy sources are ones you do not have to buy – especially in times of significant taxes and tariffs on energy costs. To achieve an energy efficient system in Europe, we should use all available technologies, because the conditions are after all very diverse across Europe.
How can buildings be optimized for energy savings?
There is no “one size fits all”. Buildings are almost as individual as people. Buildings in Northern Europe facing north have very different demands and potentials than buildings in Southern Europe facing south. Clearly, enabling the consumer to control their energy consumption is a necessary start. And we should use all the tools we have available- from better constructed buildings, better insulation, more efficient ventilation and heating, LED lights, thermostats, building automation, and all other cost efficient options.