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EU: Expert Discusses Energy Alternatives

(RFE/RL) January 10, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- As the European Union addresses widespread concerns that it must diversify its energy sources to ensure future supplies, Federico Bordonaro, Europe analyst for the "Power And Interest News Report," discusses what options it has. He spoke with RFE/RL correspondent Michael Scollon about the changes 2007 might bring.

RFE/RL: How will continued high oil and gas prices affect countries' efforts to ensure future energy security in 2007?

Federico Bordonaro: This will of course push the great powers to continue developing alternative strategies. So, bioenergies, but also so-called "clean coal" -- coal technology that can be more ecologically accepted -- and also nuclear power has already been in a revival.

RFE/RL: What concrete steps has the European Union already taken in terms of alternative energies?

Bordonaro: The Finnish presidency of the European Union [in 2006] has actually insisted a lot on bio-energies and trying to augment the level of investment in so-called second-generation biofuels. The second-generation biofuels are obtained through gasification and they are considered to be more secure and more competitive than first-generation ones like bio-ethanol and bio-diesel.
"The mainstream opinion is that Europe should try to unify its energy policy so that Moscow cannot play one European player against the other and cannot generate an inner competition in Europe."

RFE/RL: What is Europe's best strategy to counter Moscow's emergence as an energy power?

Bordonaro: The mainstream opinion is that Europe should try to unify its energy policy so that Moscow cannot play one European player against the other and cannot generate an inner competition in Europe. Otherwise some others think that each European Union member must first liberalize its market dynamic, its market structure, inside because there are still very obsolete rules inside.

RFE/RL: What are the chances of the European Union developing a unified energy policy?

Bordonaro: I think that Europe is very unlikely going to have a single, a common energy policy and energy market. Therefore, I predict is that each European member state will try to get the best possible ad hoc agreement with Russia. This is what Germany and Italy have already done.

RFE/RL: Why have some EU states opted for the individual approach?

Bordonaro: Part of Europe, especially Germany and Italy, will probably become more and more dependent on Russian natural gas. And it will be very difficult, as far as I understand, to build up a common and effective European energy strategy.

RFE/RL: What other obstacles stand in the way?

Bordonaro: Another problem is that France, for example, is less dependent on Russia, and is probably less motivated to put so many energies into forging a common energy policy. The most determined actor to counter Russian moves appears to be Britain, and possibly Poland.

Ukraine And European Energy Security

Ukraine And European Energy Security

A worker inspects a gas facility outside of Kyiv (epa file photo)

MURKY CONNECTIONS. A year after the so-called gas war between Moscow and Kyiv, energy transhipments from Russia to Europe via Ukraine remain a concern. On December 1, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a briefing featuring Tom Mayne, an energy researcher for the London-based Global Witness. Mayne discussed the lack of transparency in the energy sectors of Ukraine, Russia, and gas supplier Turkmenistan.


Listen to the entire briefing (about 60 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media


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Former U.S. Ambassador Says Kyiv Can Cope With Gas Price Rise


RFE/RL's English-language coverage of Ukraine, Russia, and Turkmenistan.