The US shale-gas revolution and European renewables: Divergence and cooperation in alternative energy

May 30, 2013

That the United States and Europe have been following different energy policies over the past few decades won't come as a surprise. However, according to one researcher, their divergence – with the US leading 'the shale gas revolution' and Europe investing heavily in modern renewables – is a good thing for the development of both alternative-energy sources.

Writing in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies, Marianne Haug of the University of Hohenheim argues that although the transatlantic energy partners continue to be committed to common goals – namely , and – the relative priority given to each has changed substantially since the early 1990s. Domestic issues, geopolitical concerns, differing resource bases, changing energy markets, government policy, public opinion, the accession of new countries to the EU and the choices of investors have all altered the landscape. To address these new challenges, both the US and Europe have jointly and separately reached out to new markets, partners and collaboration arrangements.

Haug points to the example of the as a turning point for energy policy. Before the 1997 agreement, which the US did not ratify, energy security was considered the most important of the three goals. After Kyoto, European countries gave higher, if not equal, priority to environmental concerns. European countries entered into partnerships beyond the US to develop low-carbon technologies, such as windmills, photovoltaic units, solar thermal hot-water installations and rapeseed biofuel. The EU also developed emission-trading systems, biofuel targets, energy-efficiency guidelines and standards, which stimulated the market for and the industry as a whole.

In the United States, where the European acceptance of the potential dangers of continued fossil-fuel use is not widespread, public and private investors have spent heavily on , building on existing fossil-fuel technology. The ability to extract shale gas efficiently could indeed 'change the game' for the US and other countries by contributing to energy security and bringing lower prices. However, the industry is still in its infancy in Europe, due both to stricter regulations and public opinion. This may be changing, at least in the UK: the government stated in its March 2013 budget the intention to invest in its production.

Haug concludes that this parallel development of shale gas in the US and renewables in Europe diversifies and enriches the world's energy-supply choices. They are complementary technology pathways to limit import dependence for both partners and contribute to secure, affordable and sustainable energy for all. They are the result of transatlantic diversification – initially driven by energy-security then environmental concerns – through public and private R&D and supportive government policies. Now further cooperation between the transatlantic partners is needed to scale up the development of both forms of alternative energy for the benefit of the global energy community. This article is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the major players' current positions on alternative-energy sources and what the future might hold for global supply.

Explore further: EU leaders look to energy for growth boost

More information: Haug, M. Shale gas and renewables: divergence or win-win for transatlantic energy cooperation? Journal of Transatlantic Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4, 358–373. dx.doi.org/10.1080/14794012.2012.734671

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU leaders look to energy for growth boost

May 22, 2013

EU leaders, desperate to give growth a boost, target energy policy Wednesday amid concerns a US-led revolution in shale oil and gas development will reshape the global economy and leave Europe far behind.

The future of our energy

Apr 15, 2013

When it comes to sustainable energy supplies hydroelectric plants are usually the best solution, according to researchers who have reviewed the economic, social and environmental impact of fuel provision.

IEA backs renewable energy

Nov 23, 2011

Renewable energy resources are growing very fast but countries still must be vigilant to ensure that they continue to expand, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

Apr 17, 2014

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

Apr 17, 2014

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...