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Energy: Let us overcome our dependence
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by European Commission 12 the future of Energy

People only start to become concerned about energy when it is in short supply. Without energy, however, our daily life would be very different as the factories would grind to a halt, aeroplanes could not take off, cars could not start, and we would have no heating, hot water, electricity or computers. When we flick the switch on entering an unlit room, when we switch on the heating in our homes when the air starts to get chilly, we hardly spare a thought for the power stations which generate electricity, the electricity networks, the oil and gas pipelines which connect Europe to the Middle East or to the tankers cruising in the Channel.

While it may appear that Europe has been benefiting from a relative abundance of energy since the 1986 rebound from the oil crisis, thanks, in particular, to the nuclear power programme of some countries such as France, Belgium and Spain, or the penetration of natural gas into important markets like that of heating and electricity, the future might be less reassuring. The internal energy resources which nowadays cater for half our needs are drying up, whereas consumption is increasing. If no action is taken in the next 20 to 30 years, the environmental impact of energy will be untenable and our external energy dependence will rise to a level of 70 % on average, going up to 90 % in the case of oil products. This situation makes us vulnerable, particularly on account of our economic dependence on certain types of energy, such as oil and gas, and on particular exporting countries, such as Russia for natural gas and the Middle East for oil. What is more, energy production and consumption in fact account for almost all the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The time is right for us to make conscious and informed choices among the various sources of energy at our disposal before we flick that switch or jump into our cars. Important political decisions will have to be taken soon to ensure that our energy supply and consumption is more secure and more respectful of our environment.The purpose of this brochure is to provide readers with the knowledge they need to become aware of what is at stake regarding energy so that they may take part in the debate on energy launched by the Commission at my initiative, through a Green Paper on security of energy supply.

Loyola de Palacio, Vice-president of the European Commission

Full paper available as a *.pdf file (1,249KB): click here

Visit also the conference about 'the future of the future of Energy - the Hydrogen Economy?' and the sections with books, articles and links.

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