The European Union is moving closer to a goal of 20% of European energy coming from renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels by 2020. Unfortunately, they left in biofuels, which in my view are a distraction. The question isn’t whether it is renewable, the question is whether the energy puts more carbon into the atmosphere. Solar and wind don’t, or not much (the machinery has to be built with industrial techniques, so there’s some carbon released). Biofuels, I don’t understand. We need to *reduce* the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, not slow the rate at which we increase the amount.
Still, Europe is a big chunk of the industrialized world, and if it can make the true costs of fossil fuels apparent by leveling the playing field in favor of wind and solar, that move will have a tremendous impact on innovations. There is a big danger that this new policy will give European solar firms a further leg up and leave the United States way behind, captive to Big Oil and Big Coal, with its solar firms hobbled by Congress’s hidden subsidies to the fossil fuels. That would be a way for the US to end up a third world pariah country.
I still think solar is the more important part of the mix, since there is demonstrably enormous energy to be had from solar if it could be efficiently captured, stored and distributed, whereas there is only so much wind power in the world.
At least, unlike in the US, the Europeans are not foolishly talking about natural gas and ‘clean coal’ (i.e. unicorns) as an environmental improvement! Nor are they chanting “Drill now, Drill Here!” and demanding poisonous oil be brought out of the tundra to create climate catastrophe.