The European Environmental Agency just published the updates on the shares of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption across Europe. Nearly every European country fully met or even exceeded their targeted shares of renewable energy. Only Netherlands did not meet its goal, while Luxembourg just about met its target. But Luxembourg’s performance is nevertheless really disappointing. I am going to argue that the only serious policy option for Luxembourg is to increase its renewables in energy target and thereby start to become energy independent.
You can see the shares of renewable energy across European countries in Chart 1a. Firstly, let us congratulate the Skandinavian or northern countries, Sweden, Latvia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Denmark. They not only figure the highest shares of renewables in their gross final energy consumption, but they either met, exceeded or are very close to already meeting their 2020 targets.
These countries are the front riders, the leaders, those that make us Europeans look good in terms of renewable energy usage. Of course, they also have it easier than others as it is cheap to implement hydroenergy and wind energy measures in their countries. But still, there are many other European countries that have a good access to water and wind and are not even close to these renewable energy shares.
After having done the naming, let’s do the shaming. Luxembourg. Seriously? The richest country in Europe, the richest! The one that should have no financial problems whatsoever to live up to its responsibility (it is among the highest per capita carbon emitters in the world). The one country that is financially so well standing that there should not be any excuse to invest fully in renewables. The one country that could seriously fund renewable research and help the world to develop upon its possibilities. This country in which I have been living in for so long and have learnt to appreciate highly, this country is the most disappointing among all European countries in terms of actual renewable energy shares and targets.
I cannot understand how Luxembourgish politicians have so vividly failed to propel Luxembourg to the front of renewable energy research. This is a seriously missed opportunity for financial investments. After all, those that are leading now in renewables will reap the benefits of selling their knowledge later. All countries in the world will, sooner or later, have to turn to renewables as the other sources of energy are non-renewable (and limited, and thus sooner or later used up).
In addition, most theories of justice would argue that Luxembourg has to undertake a disproportionally larger amount of mitigation actions compared to poorer countries that and those that have fewer per capita carbon emissions. Yet Luxembourg does exactly the opposite. This is a serious flaw in policy since it is unjust and makes policy look either random or selfish, both of which are bad.
Finally, Luxembourg has also set the lowest target for renewable energy shares among the European countries. Apart from the point on justice raised above, this is potentially going to be a serious problem as it makes Luxembourg energy dependent on non-renewables. Even though energy poverty is not a topic yet in Luxembourg, one should eventually expect oil and gas prices to increase again.This is going to hit Luxemboug’s poor disproportionately harder as they have a higher share of energy in their consumption budget. Hence there will be an increased need for governmental redistribution in order to compensate for potentially higher or more volatile energy costs.
There is really only one serious policy option that should be considered: Luxembourg has to increase its renewables in energy target and start to become energy independent. It is very likely that this is going to even reduce energy prices in Luxembourg and thus benefit the population. As an additional side effect, Luxembourg – with sufficient effort – would be viewed as a potential front runner and good example in terms of renewable energy instead of being a called a disappointment. I would much prefer to write an article full of praise about the renewable policy in the country that I live in and otherwise highly appreciate. Go, go, go Luxembourg’s politicians, give me a chance to write a positive article on this!