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Environmentally sound use of energy
Last changed: 08/10/2010
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland Report, 1987)
The way we currently generate and use energy is not environmentally sound. We consume too much electricity and heating and vehicle fuel. We produce these types of final energy in an inefficient way. We use primary energy sources for our energy supply that cause too much harm to the environment and climate: about 80 % of all greenhouse gas emissions are energy-related, i.e. they are produced during the conversion and use of energy.
To be sustainable, energy use must fulfil three criteria:
- The first step must be to cut consumption of final energy by being as economical as possible with electricity, heating fuel and vehicle fuel. It is perfectly possible to maintain our current energy-dependent standard of living and comfort (e.g. a warm, well-lit home or manufactured products) using significantly less energy.
- Secondly, we must meet our lower demand for final energy as efficiently as possible from primary energies. We do this today using predominantly non-renewable sources of primary energy such as coal, oil, gas and uranium. Our energy supply should be based on more efficient technologies such as combined heat and power generation, which is highly efficient.
- Thirdly, we should use renewable energies to as great a degree as possible: ideally 100 per cent. But, even so, we should use them as efficiently as possible - because even the use of renewable energies is not completely without disadvantages for the environment. And the less energy we use, the higher the renewables share in energy consumption.
Cross-cutting policy approaches are needed if we are to meet all three criteria for sustainable energy use and instigate an energy revolution. Policy approaches of this kind must be continuously developed and fed into European and international processes.