The European Parliament and the Council of the EU agreed on a share of energy from renewables of at least 32% of the Union’s gross final consumption in 2030. The revised Renewable Energy Directive includes also a clause to review this target in the event of changes in demand of energy consumption by 2023. This makes a significant improvement over the target of at least 27% the European Commission tabled in November 2016. The ambition set out in the Paris Agreement as well as dramatic progress in recent years on the competitiveness of renewables notably cost reductions in onshore and offshore technologies were a major driver for higher ambition at the EU level.
“I am very pleased that member states have given their agreement to the compromise text today. With the new EU-wide target of 32% for energy from renewable sources Europe is showing leadership in the transition to clean energy,” said Temenuzhka Petkova, Minister of Energy of Bulgaria. In addition, the establishment of the Union’s 32% renewable energy target for 2030 is expected to encourage the development of technologies which generate renewable energy and to provide greater certainty for investors.
The revised Renewable Energy Directive establishes a common framework for the promotion of energy from renewable sources. It lays down rules on financial support to electricity produced from renewable sources, self-consumption of renewable electricity, renewable energy use in the heating and cooling and transport sectors, as well as regional cooperation between EU member states and with third countries. It is worth mentioning that the Directive aims to improve the design and stability of support schemes for renewables. Renewable support policies should be predictable, stable and avoid frequent or retroactive changes. In this context, a long-term schedule covering the main aspects of the expected support should be published by each EU member state.
As regards renewable energy used in the transport sector, EU member states shall set an obligation on fuel suppliers to ensure the share of renewable energy supplied for final consumption in the transport sector is at least 14%. In addition, the Directive includes a freeze on so-called first generation of biofuels such as ethanol at the levels of production reached by each EU member state in 2020. Under to the Directive, food-crop biofuels like palm oil shall be phased out by 2030.
The revised Renewable Energy Directive is one of the eight legislative proposals of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package introduced by the Commission in November 2016. It is expected to maintain EU’s leadership role in the fight against climate change and in meeting the goals set by the Paris Agreement.
The Commission originally proposed that the Union 2030 target for the share of renewable energy consumed in the Union should be at least 27%, was endorsed by the European Council of October 2014. However, in 2016, in response to the findings of "The renewable energy progress report,” the European Parliament stressed that in light of the Paris Agreement and the recent renewable technology costs reductions, it was desirable to be significantly more ambitious. Thus, the 32% target is considered by many to be a significant improvement. However, environmentalists at Greenpeace have expressed their disappointment with the 32% target. They claim that the 32% target “is far too low” and “falls dangerously short of the level necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change”.