RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES AND
drd. Suzana Elena CHIRIAC
drd. Ioana Maria CHIDIU BÎTA
Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies
6 Romana Square, sector 1, Bucharest
Tel.: +40 727 335 510
The work aims to analyze the importance of renewable energy sources while
taking into consideration the international cooperation and globalization.
Therefore, the study analyzes the use of renewable energy, its efficiency and
efficacy, its main focus and the solutions offered.
We will highlight the renewable source concept, the main types of renewable
energy, the international environmental framework, as well as a series of
projects that have already been applied and are based on specific research
Keywords: renewable energy, international cooperation, wind energy,
waste energy, nuclear energy
Because of the importance of environmental issues and the global interest to them the
international organizations, as well as each particular country were preoccupied with the
scientific results of studies and have established a series of different solutions based on
Once the environmental preoccupation was highlighted in so many international
agreements, such as the Treaty of Rome (1957), The Convention of Rio (1992), the
Kyoto Protocol (1997), the Lisbon Strategy (2000) and others; the need of building an
institutional and legislative framework which would allow the environmental
preservation to develop in the sustainable economy come to light. Also these conferences
represent the basis of global important projects and they make everybody aware of the
need to prevent and reduce the negative impact upon the environment. Nowadays, we are
looking for diverse solutions, which are adequate to the specific areas, as well as we are
already at a high level of ecological education and resource allocation awareness. These
are based on the detailed research and scientific innovations, on the analysis of the cause
and effects of environment degradation.
Technological progress and technical innovation have made it possible to adopt new
solutions, based on their findings.
The current challenges that come out when we speak of energy and sustainable
- we are dependent on other regions of the world for energy sources and most of these are facing instability; the energy demand, covered by resources found outside Europe rose with 50% and it will rise to 70% until 2030 if we do not implement other measures - the obligation of assuming the Kyoto Protocol specifications regarding greenhouse gases emission – climate change is more and more obvious and the energy demand is
rising, the carbon dioxide emission are expected to grow with 60% until 2030 and speed-up the global warming process
- Europe hasn’t developed internal energy markets that are completely competitive,
which would provide security to the citizens and companies in the Union and ensure food security and affordable prices.
One of the ways to implement new policies is to increase the degree of energy coming from renewable sources.
If the problem of the institutional and legislative framework has been partially solved, as well as the establishment of policies, strategies and regional and national plans there still remains a question: which are the most efficient solutions for adequate energy sources that are suitable for different areas?
1. The causes that generate the need of obtaining energy from renewable
The preoccupation for climate change appeared because of the constant rise in the global temperature, in the ocean water and sea-water level and the reach of a maximum rate of carbon dioxide emission (compared to 400 000 years ago these have reached a double 1) maximum level at the Vostock station
A high rise in the energy demand is observed globally and it this is a partial result of the need of economic growth and development in order to reduce the difference between the countries. In the same time, the majority of the states Governments claim they cannot rely only on conventional energy sources, meaning on the limited fossil reserves, which are also usually located in areas that are politically unreachable. However, we will still need energy in order to survive and develop; therefore alternative sources remain a main focus internationally.
The benefits that are brought by the international organisms and organizations, as well as by the existent cooperation highlight the mutual support offered for the development of the renewable energy sector; initiatives have already been implemented in the majority of states and objectives that are strictly limited in time have already been established. In order to establish an acceptance and development level geographical and environmental criteria have been introduces in various multinational organisms. These have been added to the economic, political, social and administrative criteria and also special sustainability funds have been created. In the past few years the main part of the projects requiring financial support has been registered in the sectors of IT infrastructure development and environment.
The new objectives set by the European directives are the following:
- The renewable sources percentage should reach 20% of the whole energetic sources of the European Union in 2010
- The energy obtained from renewable sources should grow to 34% of the total use of energy in 2020
1 Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA, Carbon dioxide information and research centre
- The wind energy should contribute with 12% to the EU energy production by 2020
- The waste energy should grow significantly, using wood and organic waste in the
- The other technologies, such as photovoltaic, thermo, solar, wave energy and tide
energy should register a faster growth after their price decreases.
2. Short description of the main renewable energy sources and the analysis of
the present situation in Romania, correlated with the European and
The renewable energy sources refer to renewable natural sources, which are also limited
in flow. These count currently for the wind energy, waste energy, hydro energy,
geothermal energy, solar and thermal energy, ocean energy, and wave and tide energy.
The subsectors of energy are situated at different development levels; therefore the
investment varies and makes some of the sources remain hardly accessible because the
costs they imply are too high.
Base don the statistical data analysis, it seems that the past few year the European energy
companies, and not the American ones, have grown as a number and take over the 2renewable energy sector.From the data contained by the same study we can observe that
not only the increasing oil price generates the implication of the European institutions,
but also the pressure of the Governments for market regulation.
During the past three years, the European energy market registered the most transactions,
being the most active in the field. This demonstrates the implication level and the benefits
of international cooperation for the same objective.
The annual increase in investments for the renewable energy sources was 64% between
2004 and 2007, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) states. 3The renewable energy sources count for 15% of the total energy sources, of which hydro
energy holds 12.2%, waste and renewable fuels hold 1.5% and wind, together with solar,
geothermal and flux energy cover 1.3%.
The main characteristics of the most used renewable energy sources are listed below.
Wind energy is seen as one of the most successful sources of the future, offering the
following benefits: it creates no political disputes (nuclear energy is still in discussion
and hydro energy has passed the expansion period); its safety and price competitiveness,
because the wind is a natural phenomenon with relatively low risks compared to nuclear
sources; the greenhouse gas emission – expanding the wind energy use the source can
contribute with an average annual decrease of 60 million tones in carbon dioxide 4emission for Europe.
Wind energy holds a 20 year or more designed life, the new technology made possible
the increase in capacity of the turbines, while the technological progress and
competitiveness led to a decrease in its price.
2 Mergermarket Study, February 2008, based on 100 persons interviewed (50 from Europe, 25 from Asia
and 25 from North America) 3 IEA – research study in the OECD countries in 2007 4 Adam Forsyth, Landsbank, Presentation held at the “Romania – Who has the power?” conference, 1
Concerning the European energy sector we can now observe three major challenges: the safety of use, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and the economic competitiveness through offering the alternatives at a relatively accessible price. The nuclear energy sources can offer the proper answer for all these, as the safety of their production is no longer a problem and the nuclear waste management issue has already been addressed.
The role of the nuclear power in Europe has to take into account the following factors: Europe still depends on fuel sources that are outside the continent; Russia and the former Soviet Union countries play a key role; the old plants need to be reconstructed or modernized, as well as there is a need for considering the investments in building new power plants; the EU engagement in reaching established limits for carbon dioxide 5emissions and the wish of the EU to become competitive.
In 2007, from the total energy sources of Romania (coal-43%; hydro energy 26%, oil and natural gas-18%, wind energy 7% ) the nuclear power was situated on the last position, 6with 13%.In the first quarter of 2008, the percentage had already grown to an average of
The Cernavoda nuclear plant has two functional reactors and already has a plan for the third and fourth reactors to become operational.
Europe gathers 151 reactors, that cover for 400 000 persons in work-force and generate 32% of the total energy. The carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by approximately 720 7million tones per year because of these.
The action plan for the future includes reactors in Finland, United Kingdom, France, Holland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania becoming operational and it also includes the construction of the first European Pressurized Reactors (EPR).
Disputes remain because of the political acceptance of such national and regional solutions, because of the accident risk, as well as the insufficient trained or specialized personnel for some of the countries.
Despite the disputes, the nuclear energy is the core of the socio-economic system, contributing to the development of the three European piles (the social, environmental and economic components) and to the labour-force occupational rate increase. Innovation and research are the core for the development of the sector, as well as international cooperation. For example, the CANDU 6 reactor, discovered by the Canadians (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited - AECL) is the basis for nuclear energy security. Also, a series of other north-American companies and institutions were involved in the counseling and training of the personnel in European nuclear plants. A source of its knowhow is also countries such as China and Korea.
The waste energy sources refer to the transformation of waste into electrical power or heat. Therefore, masses that left alone could produce greenhouse gas emissions are used to create energy, finally offering two effects: the production of energy and the decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.
5 World Energy Council Report for 2007 6 Nuclearelectrica Statistics for 2007 and 2008 7 Foratom “Nuclear and GHG emissions avoidance”, article based on the Eurostat statistics
The use of these sources is flexible, being able to adapt to the types of materials used, but it also relies on different types of technologies for making use of the materials, which can create an obstacle for their expansion.
This type of energy is also sensitive for the civil society, as it creates disputes easily and its costs are high.
Because of its geographical position, the relief and the climate, Romania can be considered as a modest renewable source provider. The renewable sources can, though, have important contributions to the energetic balance of the country and to the energy resource import. Their use can be centralized – national energy system, local centralized
systems for the electrical and thermo power provision, but also for the provision of energy in isolated areas, where the connection to centralized systems is non-profitable. In order to ensure the expansion of renewable energy sources it is primarily important to establish precise responsibilities and competencies to the authorities and the institutions of the state, as well as we have to ensure their way of achieving. In this context, environmental competencies and responsibilities are held in Romania by the following institutions: the Government, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Resources, in collaboration with the Romanian Agency for Energy Conservation, the National Energy sector Regulation Authority, the Romanian Agency for Energy Preservation.
The implication demonstrated by the European Union and the United Nations through programs and financing led to remarkable results for Romania, which proves how important the environmental issues and the international support are. For example, through the United Nations Development Programme a series of technical studies for projects based on renewable sources were financed. Among these are the following: Big Land Constanta (wind energy), Expur (wood waste burning process), Lovrin (geothermal energy), Mobam (wood waste burning process), Nordsimex (wood waste burning process), Rominservices Therm Mangalia (solar energy), Transgex Oradea (geothermal energy), Ulerom (sunflower seed waste), Zoppas (geothermal energy).
The environmental benefits of these studies sum up the reduction of polluters in different areas, by:
- increasing the energetic efficiency at the thermo-spot and replacing the liquid fuel with renewable energy
- the usage of wood waste, which are considered a neutral fuel for carbon dioxide emissions led to a decrease in pollution (using the wood waste for the energy production reduces its natural-state pollution; by filtering, collecting and using it as a fuel energy is obtained)
- the usage of sunflower seed shells, which constitute a renewable energy source neutral for carbon dioxide emissions (the carbon dioxide emission at their burning is absorbed the next year, when the new production grows)
Within the United Nations Development Programme several technical studies for the support of investment proposals coming from beneficiaries in the private and public sectors were made: bearing producers, cable, furniture, paper, medicines producers, thermo-energy providers and waste management agents.
The beneficiaries of these projects were: Colterm Timişoara, Dobrogea Group, Goscom
Miercurea Ciuc, Isovolta, Rulmenţi Bârlad and Sortilemn Gherla.
The oil crisis and climate change results affect us more day by day, highlighting the
global fear for the limited resources. The technical solutions, such as building new
transcontinental oil pipes frequently face political and diplomatic disputes internationally,
while the renewable energy sources have a low influence upon these.
The faster expansion of renewable energy sources depends on:
- the existence of support-schemes – financial mechanisms that can ensure part of the
new investments or part of the production costs for the design life
- an adequate and stable regulatory system that stand for the application of support-
schemes on a medium/long term, in order to attract and maintain the trust of the investors.
The international efforts for establishing an institutional and legislative framework, as
well as the measures for financial sustainability and renewable energy projects support
are an important step for the sector.
For Romania certain aspects are still unsettled, for example obtaining the green
certificates for relatively small prices compared to the European market (a green
certificate for the carbon dioxide emissions costs between 24 and 42 Euros); creating
project managements units for the environmental agencies (the agencies currently ask for
the support of project management consulting organizations or the personal training or
experience of their own personnel); the better correspondence of regional and national
environmental strategies and their public availability for institutions in order to create a
reference for those who want to participate with new projects; the lack of a state authority
that handles as a main responsibility the promotion of renewable energy sources.
International Energy Agency Research study in the OECD countries 2007 World Energy Council Report for 2007 Foratom “Nuclear and GHG emissions avoidance”, article based on the Eurostat
Nuclearelectrica Statistics for 2007 and 2008
National Energy sector Regulatory Agency Electrical Power market monitoring results
Report for 2007 and 2008
Forsyth, Adam, Landsbank Presentation held at the “Romania – Who has the power?”
conference, 1 October 2008
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA Carbon dioxide information and research centre
Mergermarket Study, February 2008, based on 100 persons interviewed (50 from
Europe, 25 from Asia and 25 from North America)