Additional measures to facilitate renewables in Europe

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The European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement to reinforce the Union’s Renewable Energy Directive. This deal makes a vital step closer to complete the “Fit for 55” legislation on the EU’s “green deal” and the REPowerEU objectives. 

     The European Green Deal is the EU’s long-term growth strategy to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. The revision of the Renewable Efficiency Directive is one of the ‘Fit for 55′ proposals presented by the Commission in July 2021 to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Accelerating and increasing the deployment renewables by the end of the next decade is crucial to Europe becoming the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal a reality.
Ramping up our production and use of renewable energy is also a key pillar of the REPowerEU Plan, which is the EU’s strategy to get rid of Russian fossil fuel imports as soon as possible. In May 2022, the Commission proposed as part of the REPowerEU Plan to further accelerate the role out of renewables, including an increase of the binding Renewables Target proposed under the ‘Fit for 55′ package of European Green Deal legislation.

Effective legislation
Provisional agreement raises the EU’s binding targets for renewables goals to a minimum of 42.5% (up from present 32% target) and almost doubling the existing share of renewable energy in the EU-27 by 2030; to sum-up, the two EU legislative institutions agreed that the EU member states would reach 45% of renewables in the energy mix by 2030.
Provisional agreement now requires formal adoption by the European Parliament and the Council. Once this process is completed, the new legislation will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and enter into force.
EU member states’ energy policies shall be oriented at meeting the EU’s 55% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2030 coped with a massive scaling-up of renewables in power generation, industry, buildings and transport; it will all also help to reduce energy prices and decrease the EU’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. The EU states will put in place dedicated acceleration areas for renewables, with particularly short and simple permitting processes. The provisional agreement also enhances cross-border cooperation on renewables.

Renewables in national economy
The revised Directive strengthens annual renewables targets for the heating and cooling sector and for renewable energy used in district heating systems. It introduces a specific renewable energy benchmark of 49% for energy consumption in buildings by 2030 to complement EU buildings legislation and guide the member states’ efforts.
As a key energy-consuming sector, industry is included for the first time in the Renewable Energy Directive. The agreement establishes indicative targets (1.6% of annual increase in renewable energy use) as well as a binding target to reach 42% of renewable hydrogen in total hydrogen consumption in industry by 2030. The agreement also reinforces the regulatory framework for renewable energy use in transport (14.5% greenhouse gas intensity reduction or 29% share of renewable energy in final energy consumption), including a combined sub-target of 5.5% for advanced biofuels and renewable fuels of non-biological origin, including a minimum level of 1% for renewable fuels of non-biological origin. These targets support the EU’s ambitions on renewable hydrogen roll-out.
The agreement also contains provisions to support energy system integration via electrification and waste heat uptake as well an enhanced system of guarantees of origin to improve consumers’ information.

Single Market and green deal
The European Single Market is one of the EU’s greatest achievements and a cornerstone of the Union’s economic prosperity. Thirty years after its inception, a reinforcement of the Single Market has gained new urgency, particularly to push ahead one of the EU’s most important projects: the “green deal”. It is in the member sates’ interest to build to use the Single Market advantages to push ahead with the green transition and make the national industry competitive at the present increasing global competition.
Presently, among the “four basic freedoms” in the Single Market “freedom for goods and people” has been more active in developed than those for services and capital; these two have to be fully aligned with the ambitions of “green deal” too. Even in the functioning market for goods there are still many barriers to ensuring that modern production will reduce greenhouse gases, pollution, biodiversity loss, waste and depletion of resource. There is a great need for improving and harmonising the rules and standards along the sustainable lines in order to make the EU states more attractive marketplace for investments at home and from abroad.
Still the EU institutions and the member states’ governance shall see that that the European Single Market shall be harnessed in a way to drive forward the “green deal”, also in light of the Commission’s recent “Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age” and Commission’s proposal on the EU electricity market reform.

Bioenergy and climate change
The agreement strengthens the bioenergy sustainability criteria, in line with the increased climate and biodiversity ambition of the European Green Deal. In the future, these criteria will apply to smaller installations (equal or above 7.5 MW) rather than the 20 MW threshold under the current directive. The agreement includes provisions to ensure that forest biomass is not sourced from certain areas with a particular importance from a biodiversity and carbon stock perspective. In addition, the agreed rules establish that woody biomass will have to be used according to its highest economic and environmental added value (so-called cascading use). Financial support will be banned for energy produced through the use of saw logs, veneer logs, industrial grade round wood stumps and roots.
More in: Commission’s press release (30.03.2023) in:

     Note: Since the introduction of the Renewable Energy Directive in 2009, the deployment of renewables has kept growing yearly, reaching 21.8% in 2021. Sweden had the highest share of renewables in consumption (62.6%) in 2021, ahead of Finland (43.1%) and Latvia (42.1%), as reported to Eurostat. The 2022 study ‘EU’s global leadership in renewables’ confirms that the EU is already in a leading position for renewables technology development and deployment, but suggests that its competitive position on global renewable energy markets could be further strengthened. In July 2021, the Commission proposed directive’s revision with an increased 40% target as part of the package to deliver on the European Green Deal. In May 2022, the Commission proposed the REPowerEU plan to further increase this target to 45% by 2030. Present Renewable Energy Directive entered into force in December 2018, as part of the “Clean energy for all” package, aimed at keeping the EU a global leader in renewables and, more broadly, helping it to meet its emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.
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