European Industry Committee adopts 45% renewable energy target by 2030
The European Parliament’s Industry Committee voted on Wednesday (13 July) to double renewable energy production in the European Union by 2030, from 22% to 45%, to combat fallout from the war in Ukraine.
The new 2030 target represents a substantial increase from the 40% target presented by the European Commission only a year ago as part of its “Fit for 55” climate package.
Indeed, given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, lawmakers from all political stripes rallied behind proposals to raise that target to 45%.
The updated target is also in line with European Commission plans presented on May 18, which aim to eliminate all Russian fossil fuel imports. long before» 2030 and accelerate the energy transition.
“It’s a great day for the energy transition in Europe”said Markus Pieper, a German lawmaker from the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) who is the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the Renewable Energy Sources Directive (RED).
Parliament’s backing for a stronger renewable energy (RE) target was widely expected after all major political groups rallied around the proposal in March.
“In the context of both the climate crisis and Russia’s war in Ukraine, I am happy that we have raised the ambition of the Renewable Energy Directive”said Ville Niinistö, Finnish MEP and coordinator of the Greens on the issue of renewable energies in Parliament.
“It’s a welcome step, but we Greens/EFA would have liked 56%, which is a trajectory towards a fully renewable economy by 2040”he added in comments emailed to EURACTIV.
In a separate vote on Wednesday (13 July), MEPs also backed higher targets for the energy efficiency directive.
However, the updated EU renewable energy target is not yet enshrined in law. To do so, the proposal will need to be supported by the majority of the 27 EU member states, which have not yet adopted a common position on the issue.
The Council of the EU agreed on 40% for the moment
At their last meeting in May, EU environment ministers voted in favor of the 40% target proposed by the Commission a year ago, but postponed a decision on the final target.
This decision should be taken before the end of the year during the trilogue between the Commission, MEPs and ministers of the Member States.
Representatives of the renewable energy sector hailed the parliamentary committee’s vote as an important step.
“Now that support for a minimum target of 45% renewable energy is assured in the European Parliament and the Commission, we must ensure that this ambition is maintained or reinforced in the autumn during the negotiations with the Council”said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, an industry association.
“A target of 45% renewable energy — or more — is a major opportunity to support the great production reset [d’énergie] European solar system that will create jobs, growth and security” she added.
One of the new proposals in the Parliament’s report is to double the number of mandatory cross-border renewable electricity or green hydrogen projects, which will then increase to two per country. The largest EU member states to come up with three projects by 2030, Mr Pieper explained.
Another measure is the introduction of “innovation quotas” for the expansion of innovative renewable energy technologies. “This means that each Member State must set an indicative target of at least 5% of new installed capacity of renewable energy” recognized as “innovative technologies”by 2030, he explained.
The renewable energy industry and research sector players have welcomed the move and called on member states of the bloc to support innovation quotas.
” This innovation sub-objective […] will enable new renewable energy technologies to grow in the market and ensure that Europe remains at the forefront of renewable energy innovation”said Rémi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe in a press release.
However, disagreements have emerged over hydrogen, with political parties divided over the criteria for defining “green” hydrogen produced from renewable electricity.
“We want to include all green hydrogen production facilities, including existing facilities and those that were previously subsidized”Mr. Pieper said in an explanatory note.
EPP lawmakers want to simplify a system where electrolyzers must provide proof of purchase and consumption of green electricity in order to qualify for the label “renewable hydrogen”. The idea is that at times “where there is no wind, buying on the network remains possible”Mr. Pieper explained.
The German MEP also wants to introduce a compensation system to facilitate the purchase of green hydrogen over long distances and in different tariff zones. “I would like an electrolyser located in Hamburg to be able to obtain green electricity from Denmark without complicating the administrative procedures”did he declare.
However, the parties could not agree on the exact criteria at this stage.
What lawmakers agreed on was the removal of all low-carbon hydrogen provisions from the RED directive. The term “low carbon” refers to hydrogen produced either from the electrolysis of nuclear energy or from fossil gas using carbon sequestration technology to store CO2 emissions underground.
While the EPP supported the inclusion of low carbon technologies in the Renewable Energy Directive, other parties opposed it. It was finally agreed that low-carbon hydrogen would be dealt with under the gas and hydrogen package presented by the European Commission last December.
“I am satisfied because the inclusion of low carbon hydrogen would have been a big mistake which would have undermined the objectives of the directive”said Nicolás González Casares, a Spanish MEP.
A final point of disagreement concerns bioenergy, with the EPP rejecting the proposal for a strict separation between primary and secondary woody biomass introduced by Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI).
“I find the definitions established by the ENVI commission for secondary and primary biomass too restrictive” Mr. Pieper said.
MEPs retained the so-called “cascading use of biomass” principle, according to which wood from forests is used for high-value products such as furniture and is burned to generate energy as a last resort. Under the agreement, the principle will be transposed by the Commission into an implementing act which will be introduced separately.
However, the issue is far from settled and the European Parliament will return to it in September when Mr Pieper’s report is voted on in plenary.
Defenders of the forests, for their part, were not reassured. “The proposed definition for primary woody biomass, i.e. biomass coming directly from forests, while a welcome step, is weakened by exemptions for forests affected by fires, pests and diseasessaid campaign group Forest Defenders Alliance.
“Not only does this continue to encourage harmful logging, but it also encourages the least efficient and most polluting use of wood, namely burning it for energy production”the activists added.
Download the compromise amendments and explanatory note by MEP Markus Pieper.
[Édité par Paul Messad]
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