EU renewables targets to be set at 20 %

Oct 02, 2005 02:00 AM

The European Parliament has called for ambitious mandatory targets to increase the share of alternative energy sources in the EU to 20 % by 2020. The report outlines specific initiatives to do away with unfair distortions in the electricity market.
The 2001 directive on renewable energies aims to increase the share of renewable energy sources from 6 % to 12 % of the EU's total energy consumption by 2010. Three years after its adoption, in May 2004, the Commission published a first progress report, showing that member states are not on track to meet their national targets set out in the directive.

In the meantime, many stakeholders, including environmentalists, the renewables lobby as well as the European Parliament, have called on the Commission to set a more ambitious, mandatory target of 20 or 25 % for 2020.
In the run-up to the Commission report expected in December 2005 on the implementation of the Renewables Directive in the member states, the Parliament has now adopted an own-initiative report to repeat its call for higher targets and to set out its vision for what it calls "the renewable century".

Issues:
The European Parliament has found a broad consensus for reducing the EU's dependency on fossil fuels by boosting the sector of renewable energy sources. In a parliamentary vote on 29 September 2005, MEPs restated their call for an ambitious mandatory target for the share of renewable energy in the EU's energy mix for the period after 2010.
In a non-binding report, Parliament emphasises that a target of at least 20 % by 2020 has been proven to be feasible. This would confirm the EU as the world leader in renewable energies, as well as combat climate change and boost innovation and job creation.

MEPs have called on the Commission to come up with new legislative initiatives in the area of renewables in order to put an end to market distortions penalising the production of renewable energy. These distortions stem from decades of subsidies for conventional energy sources such as coal and oil, according to MEPs.
The report gives a strategic overview on where renewable policies stand in Europe and suggests focusing on the following areas:

-- Heating and cooling
The heating and cooling of buildings accounts for 40 % of the total EU energy consumption. MEPs call for an approach that combines increased energy efficiency with the use of low density energies like the “waste” energy from electricity production (cogeneration) or solar thermal collectors.

-- Fair market access for renewables
The report criticises the fact that renewables are still not granted fair access to the electricity grids and that they face administrative barriers which hamper their growth. MEPs also call on member states to review subsidies to environmentally harmful conventional energies such as coal and nuclear. Moreover, the “polluter pays” principle and an internalisation of external costs should be applied to all energy resources.

-- Biomass
MEPs regret that the enormous potential of biomass has not been sufficiently exploited. They suggest the use of structural and cohesion funds to promote the use of biomass. Moreover, all unnecessary tax burdens for the users of biomass should be abolished.

-- Research & Development
In order to boost European research in renewables R&D, the report calls for an increase of funding for RES and energy efficiency in the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7).
Parliament also adopted a resolution as a reaction to high oil prices. They call on Europe to diversify its energy sources and to promote energy efficiency and renewables, in order to make the EU "the least fossil-fuel dependent and most energy-efficient economy in the world by 2020".

Positions:
Parliament rapporteur Claude Turmes (Greens, Luxembourg), has welcomed the adoption of his report.
"This is a timely vote. With oil prices predicted to stay constantly high over the next months, and the devastating effects of climate change increasingly apparent, I am pleased to see that such a broad consensus is emerging in the Parliament. We have sent an unmistakable request to the Commission to come up with strong new legislation and pave the way for a stable legislative framework for the next 15 years," he said. "We have the technology and the organisational skills. What we need now is a stable investment climate. That is the key task that European politicians must get right."

MEP Mechtild Rothe (PES, Germany) added: "I am very happy that the European Parliament aims at strengthening the strategy for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The current oil crisis makes clear that we have to substitute finite energy sources with infinite renewable ones."
The renewables industry has also reacted positively to the report. "The European Parliament has made its view clear that renewables are a central part of the European energy supply. It is fully in line with the targets set last year by the European renewable energy industry", said Christine Lins, Secretary General of the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).

At a global oil conference in Johannesburg, Jeremy Bentham, CEO of Shell Hydrogen painted an equally positive picture of the future of the renewables industry.
“We believe that 25 to 30 % of world energy needs will come from renewables by 2050," he was quoted as saying on 28 September 2005.

Source: EurActiv
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