Management of Renewable Energy and Regional Development: European Experiences and Steps Forward

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1. INTRODUCTION

This study investigates the issues of the management of renewable energy and regional development with an eye to reveal some of the European experiences and further developments. Therefore, an overview of renewable energy issues in European regions is revealed firstly, and some measures and actions for managing regional development of renewable energy in Romania taking into account the financial allocations through the Cohesion Policy are disclosed secondly.

The research was conducted using a large variety of sources, such as research reports and articles. The research question was answered by analyzing published sources, evaluating and interpreting evidence.

2. OVERVIEW OF RENEWABLE ENERGY ISSUES IN EUROPEAN REGIONS

The issues of renewable energy and regional development have gained a global dimension, as well as the concerns about the economic growth. Nowadays all European regions are interdependent in terms of guaranteeing energy supplies, creating stable economic conditions and effectively combating climate change. All actors are playing an essential role in managing this change, at local, regional, national and European level. They have to embrace a new perspective and commit themselves to a sustainable energy policy (Frant and Minica, 2008: 2).

Sustainable development is possible only when it is based on the real type of economic progress in harmony with the limitations in nature, especially the amount of natural sources and the regeneration and neutralization capabilities of the biosphere combined with human-made emissions (Pozeb and Krope, 2007). Therefore, the main research and development priorities are the development of renewable electricity, cost reduction and research on environment issues, as well as the need to adapt the electricity networks to new technological, economic, environmental and political realities (Kjaer, 2006).

The development of renewable energy sources is increasingly planned at a regional and local level where needs and opportunities can more easily be taken into account, due to the decentralisation of energy supply which enables local and regional factors to play a more important role (Applica & Ismeri Europa, 2011: 10).

Renewable energy sources are currently unevenly and insufficiently exploited in the European Union. Although many of them are abundantly available, and have real economic potential, renewable energy sources make a disappointingly small contribution to the European Union's overall gross electricity generation. Member States of the European Union start from very different positions as regards the use of renewable energy for electricity generation (figure 1).

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There are some investment funds at the European Union's level, of which some may be used in order to develop the field of renewable energy. Through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), otherwise known as the Structural Funds, as well as the Cohesion Fund, investments can be made in thousands of projects across all Europe's regions, with the aim to promote economic and social cohesion by reducing the disparities between Member States and regions. With a budget of 347 billion [euro] for 2007-2013, Cohesion Policy represents the single largest source of financial support at the European Union's level for investment in growth and jobs, designed to enable all regions to compete effectively in the internal market. However, as the challenges faced by Europe's regions have changed over time, so has changed the policy. Against a background of momentous change in the Union as a result of enlargement and of increasing globalisation, concerns about energy supplies, demographic decline, climate change and more recently, world recession, the policy has evolved, as a key part of the response to meet these new realities (European Commission, 2009: 1). The financial allocations through the Cohesion Policy for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the European Union are illustrated in figure 2. …