Fortunately for the Union, new energy technologies and new energy sources offer an alternative route to supply security. Moreover, new and renewable energies (solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass) can generate economic activity, thereby creating added value and employment in Europe. Furthermore, they both improve the quality of the environment and standards of living, and are particularly important for the less developed regions of the EU, which have considerable potential for the development of renewable energy resources. For these reasons, a directive commits the Member States to meeting national targets for their future consumption of electricity from renewable energy sources consistent with the indicative overall target of 21% of gross inland energy consumption in 2010 [Directive 2001/77]. In this context, a directive establishes a framework for the promotion and development of cogeneration, that is, the simultaneous generation in one process of heat and electrical and/mechanical power, as a means of improving security of energy supply [Directive 2004/8, partially repealed by Directive 2012/27]. Another Directive establishes a common framework of measures for the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure in the Union, including recharging points for electric vehicles and refuelling points for natural gas (LNG and CNG) and hydrogen, in order to minimise dependence on oil and to mitigate the environmental impact of transport [Directive 2014/94].
The "Intelligent Energy - Europe" programme, which is part of the European Union’s Research and Innovation Programme ‘Horizon2020’ [Regulation 1291/2013, see section 18.4], finances, inter alia, actions promoting new and renewable energy resources (IEE - ALTENER) and in particular those: (a) promoting new and renewable energy sources for centralised and decentralised production of electricity, heat and cooling, thus supporting the diversification of energy sources; (b) integrating new and renewable energy sources into the local environment and the energy systems; and (c) supporting the preparation of legislative measures and their application. In the context of the European Economic Recovery Plan [see section 7.3], the European Energy Programme for Recovery (the EEPR) assists the development of projects in the field of energy in the European Union which, by providing a financial stimulus, contribute to economic recovery, the security of energy supply and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions [Regulation 663/2009]. The EU is member of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) [Decision 2010/385].
The common research policy tries to encourage the deployment of technologies and to help promote changes in energy demand patterns and consumption behaviour by improving energy efficiency and integrating renewable energy into the energy system. The ''Energy'' theme of the specific programme "Cooperation", implementing the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007 to 2013) [see section 18.2.2], focuses on the identification and development of cost-effective technologies for a more sustainable energy economy, based on affordable energy costs for citizens and industry [Decision 2006/971]. Strengthening the competitiveness of the European energy sector is an important objective of this theme, providing the capability for European industry to maintain and develop its world leadership in key energy generation and energy efficiency technologies and materials. Research and development activities of this programme concern notably: hydrogen and fuel cells; renewable electricity generation; renewable fuel production; renewables for heating and cooling; CO2 capture and storage technologies; energy efficiency and savings; and international cooperation.
A Directive aims at promoting the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels to replace diesel or petrol for transport purposes in the Member States, with a view to contributing to objectives such as meeting climate change commitments, environmentally friendly security of supply and promoting renewable energy sources [Directive 2009/28].
Although the EU looks unlikely to reach the target fixed by Directive 2001/77, i.e. a contribution from renewable energy sources exceeding 10% by 2010, the Commission, in a ''Renewable Energy Road Map'', proposes that the EU establish a legally binding target of 20% for renewable energy's share of EU energy consumption by 2020 and a new legislative framework for the promotion and the use of renewable energy in the EU [COM/2006/848]. This should provide the business community with the long-term stability it needs to make rational investment decisions in the renewable energy sector.