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Hungary could replace 20% of its imported fuels by solar, thermal heat

Hungary should increase production and usage of solar and thermal energy within its total energy mix in order to help reduce the ratio of imported oil and gas, Environment and Water Management Minister Miklós Persányi told an industry conference on Tuesday.

"Within five or ten years, the weight of solar and thermal heat in Hungary could reach 10-20% of all imported hydrocarbon fuels," Persanyi said. Currently Hungary imports about 70% of all its hydrocarbon fuel consumption, which threatens Hungary's energy safety, according to experts at the conference. Persányi stressed that increasing the weight of domestically-produced solar and thermal energy would help Hungary to lower its dependency on energy imports.

Meanwhile, Hungary is set to reach targets laid down recently in an EU proposal to increase the share of renewable energy to an EU average of 20% within total power generation by 2020. For Hungary specifically, this means an increase in the ratio of renewable fuels within the total to 7-7.2% by 2013, and 14-15% by 2020.

Currently, some 5-6% of Hungary's energy need is generated by renewable sources, but experts at the conference noted that further growth potential is restricted mostly to bio-mass electricity, as Hungary lacks significant hydro or wind capabilities due to its geographical conditions. At the same time, Persányi stressed that solar and thermal heat should be considered focus areas as these sources are the least harmful to the environment among renewable fuels potentially usable in Hungary. (