Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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EU energy ministers agree on higher targets for renewables and energy efficiency

The EU Energy Council agreed on Monday on a revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), two legislative proposals that support the EU’s energy independence and climate transition under the ‘Fit for 55’ package.

“Decarbonising our energy systems through a massive deployment of renewable energies and significant efforts in energy savings is essential to achieve our climate objectives,” said Agnès Pannier-Runacher, French minister for the energy transition adding that it will also help us to reduce our dependence on Russia for energy, in the context of the war in Ukraine.

The Council agreed to set a binding EU-level target of 40 per cent of energy from renewable sources in the overall energy mix by 2030. The current EU-level target is at least 32 per cent. Member states will need to increase their national contributions set in their integrated national energy and climate plans (NECPs), to be updated in 2023 and 2024 to collectively achieve the new target.

Energy ministers also agreed on more ambitious sector-specific targets and measures. Regarding the sub-targets for transport, the Council introduced the possibility for member states to choose between a binding target of 13 per cent greenhouse gas intensity reduction in transport by 2030 or a binding target of at least 29 per cent renewable energy within the final consumption of energy in the transport sector by 2030.

They called for a binding sub-target for advanced biofuels in the share of renewable energies supplied to the transport sector at 0.2 per cent in 2022, 1 per cent in 2025 and 4.4 per cent in 2030, integrating the addition of a double counting for these fuels. Regarding renewable fuels of non-biological origin in transport (mostly renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-based synthetic fuels), the Council agreed on an indicative sub-target of 2.6 per cent, which corresponds to 5.2 per cent also with the addition of a multiplier.

The energy ministers decided on a gradual increase in renewable targets for heating and cooling, with a binding increase of 0.8 per cent per year at national level until 2026 and 1.1 per cent from 2026 to 2030. The minimum annual average rate applicable to all Member States is complemented with additional indicative increases calculated specifically for each Member state.

The ministers set an indicative target of a 1.1 per cent annual average increase in renewable energy use for industry noting that 35 per cent of the hydrogen used in industry should come from renewable fuels of non-biological origin by 2030 and 50 per cent by 2035.

Additionally, the Council set an indicative target of at least a 49 per cent renewable energy share in buildings in 2030, strengthened the sustainability criteria for biomass in order to reduce the risk of unsustainable bioenergy production and added measures to limit fraud as regards durability of biofuels.

The ministers also included accelerated permitting procedures for renewable energy projects in line with the priorities of the RepowerEU to fast-track the deployment of renewable energies in the context of the EU’s plan to become independent from Russian fossil fuels.

“Europe now wants 510 GW of wind energy by 2030, up from 190 GW today. That’s 39 GW of new wind farms every year. Europe will only achieve that if it speeds up permitting. It’s very good that EU Energy Ministers have now agreed to do precisely that,” WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson commented on the Council’s decision.

The 27 EU energy ministers also agreed to reduce energy consumption by 36 per cent for final energy consumption and 39 per cent for primary energy consumption by 2030. The key target of 36 per cent reduction at EU level for final energy consumption would be binding. This corresponds to a nine per cent reduction in consumption compared to 2020. Under the REPowerEU plan, the commission aimed to increase the EU 2030 binding energy efficiency target to 13 per cent, instead of nine per cent.

On the margins of the Council of Energy Ministers, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary signed a regional memorandum of understanding (MoU) on increased cooperation in the event of electricity supply crises.

The energy committee of the European Parliament will vote on the draft proposal on 13 July. Final negotiations could then begin in autumn.

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