I have the honour to speak on behalf of The European Union and its Member States.
First of all, please allow us to congratulate you on your appointment as co-chairs of the Thirteenth meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea.
The EU and its Member States welcome this year’s ICP discussions on marine renewable energy. The discussions will complement the work of the Twelfth meeting on contributing to the assessment, in the context of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, highlighting the progress and identifying the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and addressing the new and emerging challenges.
We recognize the huge potential in marine renewable energy as a new path towards a more sustainable future in the energy sector. A restructuring of the energy sector is under way in order to lead the path away from fossil fuels. This is important for the environment and sustainable growth.
We will now focus on the role of marine renewable energies in sustainable development in Europe.
In 2007, the European Union and its Member States agreed to new climate and energy targets: a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020; 20% energy efficiency by 2020 and 20% of the EU’s energy consumption to be from renewable sources by 2020. The Renewable Energy Directive establishes the basis for the achievement of the EU’s 20% renewable energy target by 2020. The target reaches across the electricity, transport and heat sectors.
The Renewable Energy Directive sets an individually binding renewable energy target, contributing to the achievement of the overall EU goal. Member States are required to prepare a National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) setting out how it plans to reach its overall targets. In accordance with the directive on the Assessment of the effects of the Plans and Programmes on the Environment, strategic environmental consideration is given at an early stage in the decision-making process. Furthermore, all larger projects are evaluated according to the directive on Environmental Impact Assessment before implementation.
The European Union and its Member States recognize the potential of marine renewable energy to make a substantial contribution to the EU energy-mix, the European Commission has been supporting research and demonstration projects over the past 20 years. Member States have also been working intensively to develop the marine renewable technologies to become engaged for market and commercial production at a level playing field with alternative energy sources. Most testing for commercial scale use is also supported by industrial players in the market.
We would like to add some information on the significance of the on-going or planned marine renewable energies at EU level.
Green investments are investments in both the present and the future. More than 20 million EU jobs are linked to the environment in one way or another. This clearly illustrates the potential of pursuing the green agenda.
Particularly the offshore wind power market has grown significantly in the last 20 years as this technology has become ready for commercial production. It is a technology which is particularly suitable for harvesting energy at sea, where wind resources are abundant. By 2011, 53 offshore wind farms were installed and grid connected in ten EU countries. We are also pursuing commercial technology in the tidal range technology, which is restricted to areas with significant tidal qualities.
Several marine technologies have not yet reached the stage for commercial use, i.e. wave power. But several EU countries are testing devices in the ocean, i.e. Denmark, Portugal, Spain and UK.
It is thus a likely scenario in the near future that marine renewable energies will enter the realm of competition for sea uses globally. It is already a challenge in Europe, where a structured process on the allocation of sea space for most appropriate sea use is necessary in several countries.
On the issues of opportunities and challenges in the development of marine renewable energies, I will stress the importance of technology transfer and capacity building between developing and developed countries. This is necessary to ensure that countries with natural resources, such as powerful waves and high wind speeds, have access to the technology needed to make use of these renewable marine energies.
The International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, is supported by several EU Member States. IRENA has been set up with the aim of supporting technology cooperation, building capacity, and giving policy advice, and could be drawn upon to assist in finding the right mode for cooperation.
Furthermore, it could be useful to discuss possibilities for e.g. technology transfer and exchange of know-how under the realm of the climate change convention. Finally, Messrs Co-chairs, the EU and its Member States are looking forward to participating in a constructive round of discussions.
Thank you, Messrs. Co-chairs.