At the European Council this October, EU Heads of State have a realistic chance to bring together, at last, the key three strands of energy policy – carbon, security and price – to forge a coherent strategy, for the first time.
And Ed Davey, UK Energy Minister, used this summit to preview key policy decisions facing the EU energy sector between now and then in his speech to the Eurelectric conference in London.
In a wide-ranging speech covering all three pillars of the energy trilemma, Davey said: “This summit would be a critical strategic moment by itself – if it was just the 2030 climate package we have all been working on for so long.
“But it turns out it could be even more significant. And we have President Putin to thank for that. For alongside climate, energy security is also now at the top of the European energy debate.
“Just last week, the Commission’s published its welcome Energy Security Plan, building on the deal agreed by myself and other G7 energy ministers in Rome last month. This plan shows – not surprisingly – that there is no quick fix to tackle European energy security. We need a sustained effort, over many years.
“And it makes policy sense and political sense to embed a robust energy security strategy within an ambitious and flexible EU 2030 policy framework.
‘However, climate and energy security are only two of the three pillars of a modern energy policy – the third is price. Everyone knows that energy prices are a huge issue – for consumers and European industry alike.
“As gas prices have risen here and fallen in the USA, the need to help people struggling with their energy bills and to do more for industrial competitiveness could not be more urgent.
In the UK, our whole energy and climate change policy is based on a mixed approach – to bring on all low carbon technologies.
“So for us, Europe should not repeat the 2020 renewables target, which was binding on an individual member state, as that is too rigid, and for some countries too expensive.
“Member states must be allowed to follow the Treaty – which in effect demands technology neutrality in European energy policy.
“The UK has invested significantly in our ability to import liquid natural gas. This, coupled with indigenous production in the North Sea and pipelines to Norway, limit our own reliance on Russian gas.
“It also helps to make the UK the most energy secure nation in the EU – a point noted by the recent report by the US Chamber of Commerce. But we are not complacent.
“That is why the UK is pioneering shale gas exploration in Europe.
“And we have acted to ensure that shale exploration happens safely, without harming the environment, and provides a boost to local communities who host the resources.
“So shale can form part of the UK’s, and Europe’s, energy security future.”