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Renewable-energy mandate could save $96 bln a year

A binding European Union target to buy 20% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020 would cut the region's fossil-fuel costs by about $96 billion a year, according to figures from an EU official.

Achieving that target would curb demand for fossil fuels by about 250 million metric tons of oil equivalent a year, said Fabrizio Barbaso, the deputy director general of energy and transport at the European Commission, the EU's regulatory arm. Barbaso was speaking at the European Renewable Energy Policy Conference in Brussels. There are about 7.1 barrels in a ton and the price of oil today is about $54 a barrel. It will be an „uphill battle,” to prompt many EU members to agree to binding targets, because they are on average about a third of the way to the 20%, Jorgen Koch, an energy official in Denmark and former director of the International Energy Agency in Paris, told the conference.

To help cut emissions and boost energy security, the European Commission January 10 proposed a binding target of getting a fifth of its energy, including transport energy, from renewable sources by 2020. That includes a binding target to boost use of so-called biofuels to 10% of vehicle fuel consumption by that year. Achieving the 20% target would cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, Barbaso said. That's worth about €16 billion ($21 billion) a year based on the most recent 2012 EU carbon dioxide permit price on the European Climate Exchange of €17.80 a ton.

Sixteen of 25 member states are likely to miss a non-binding target to secure 12% of energy from renewable sources by 2010, Barbaso said. Laws setting out how the target will be achieved will probably not be in place until 2009, Matthias Ruete, director general of energy and transport at the commission, said yesterday at the conference. Laws must be approved by EU states and members of the European Parliament, a process that usually takes more than 18 months, Ruete said. (Bloomberg)