EU leading in renewable energy

Date: 6 December 2016

The European Commission has published a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive containing a set of measures designed to make Europe number one in renewable energy, slashing emissions from the energy sector, securing energy supply, creating jobs and empowering consumers along the way.

The revised Directive updates the Renewable Energy Directive which has been in place since 2009 by easing the integration of renewables in the electricity sector, boosting renewables in the heating and cooling sector, decarbonising the transport sector, better informing and empowering consumers, and making sure the EU’s binding renewable energy target is achieved on time. Furthermore, the revised Directive will be flanked by specific provisions for renewable energy in the package of measures to support the Energy Union.

The EU has a target to achieve a share of at least 27% renewables in final energy consumption by 2030, expected to result in a 50% share of renewable electricity.

However, investments in renewables have dropped by more than half since 2011 to €44 billion last year, and the EU accounts for only 18% of global total investment in renewables, down from nearly 50% just five years ago.

The revised Directive will help the EU to achieve its renewable energy targets by helping EU countries to design incentives to achieve a more market-oriented and europeanized approach. It will also apply a time limit on permit granting processes for renewables and make repowering existing renewable plants easier.

Moreover, renewables are not sufficiently integrated into EU energy markets both across EU borders and within electricity markets. Renewables need to be able to access cross-border markets to smooth out the availability of wind or sun, for example. They also require short-term markets to ensure that supply and demand is matched at all times and in the most economic manner. Market Design initiative also addresses these challenges.

Separately, the heating and cooling and transport sectors are still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

In heating and cooling – a sector which accounts for 68% of EU gas imports since three-quarters of EU homes are heated and cooled using gas – supply of renewable energy will be encouraged. The current proposal gives several options to Member States through measures to increase their share of renewable energy in heating and cooling supply.

In transport – where oil supplies about 94% of all energy used to power European cars, trucks, ships and planes – the revised Directive will boost the use of advanced biofuels, electricity, hydrogen and renewable synthetic fuels. These fuels will need to produce at least 70% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.

The revised Directive will also gradually limit the role of food-based biofuels and introduce national databases to ensure the traceability of the fuels and reduce the risk of fraud.

For consumers, the revised Directive aims to enable consumers to produce their own electricity with greater ease and ensure they are paid for electricity they feed into the grid. It also recognises and empowers energy communities and ensures the provision of information on electricity production from renewables, energy performance and energy sources in district heating and cooling systems.

The revised Directive is part of a package of measures launched on 30 November 2016 designed to help the EU achieve its Energy Union objectives.

Source: Euroheat & Power