A recent European Commission Green Paper seeking views on the development of intermediate renewable energy and climate targets for 2030 has prompted calls from the industry to adopt a three part approach, targeting renewable energy, energy efficiency and emissions reduction.
Formally opening an ongoing debate, the consultation — the Commission says — is aimed at addressing issues such as what type of energy targets should be set for 2030 and how can coherence between different policy instruments throughout the EU be attained?
With the consultation running until 2 July, the Commission intends to table the 2030 framework by the end of the year.
Commenting, Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy, said: ‘We need to define our climate and energy policy framework for 2030 as soon as possible to ensure proper investment that will give us sustainable growth, affordable competitive energy prices and greater energy security. The new framework must take into account the consequences of the economic crisis, but it must also be ambitious enough to meet the necessary long-term goal of cutting emissions 80–95 percent by 2050.’
Even with the fantastic progress of the renewables sector over the last decade and a host of additional measures, this is still a tall order. Nonetheless, the Commission has now at least taken concrete action to develop intermediate targets, something the industry has been crying out for in a bid to bolster investor confidence in the long-term stability of the sector.
Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action illustrated the point succinctly, saying: ‘We have targets for 2020, but for most investors 2020 is around the corner. It’s time to define the targets for 2030. The sooner we do that, the more certainty we get to our companies and our investors. And the more ambitious these targets are, the better for the climate.’
As if to ram home the point, the Commission also notes that the current carbon mechanism, the EU ETS, has ‘not succeeded in being a major driver towards long term low-carbon investments.’
So much for the Commission, how has the industry responded?
In a statement, the European Renewable Energy Council’s (EREC) president, Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes, said: ‘The objectives of decarbonisation, energy security and international competitiveness in the EU will need a hat-trick, achieving the three goals of a combined renewable energy, greenhouse gas and energy efficiency framework for 2030’.
‘This is the kind of long-term thinking that is needed from the EU in order to meet its 2050 decarbonisation commitments, while at the same time stabilising consumer prices,’ he added.
Hinrichs-Rahlwes is calling for the heads of the various member states to provide clear guidance at the European Council in May, in particular requesting a thorough impact assessment in order to define the best match between targets for renewable energy, emissions savings and energy efficiency.
Concluding that ‘energy policy debate over the coming months will be crucial to Europe’s future,’ Justin Wilkes, policy director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said: ‘Setting a binding 2030 renewable energy target would help the achievement of the 2020 targets, by providing the wind sector with the clarity needed to make the necessary long-term investments, thereby driving down capital costs as well as the cost of capital.’
In calling for a post-2020 legislative framework also based on renewables, efficiency and emissions reduction, among other recommendations EWEA also considers that the package should deploy measures ensuring the ‘timely development of key enabling factors, including energy systems and grid infrastructure, electricity markets, and R&D and innovation.’
EWEA argues for an approach in which carbon pricing mediates the economy-wide action, renewables deployment targets reduce long-term costs and enable the timely scale-up of new technologies, and efficiency policy lifts non-economic barriers to energy efficiency potential.
An ambitious and binding greenhouse gas target should be set for 2030 to ensure the EU is on the optimal pathway to 80–95 percent reductions by 2050, EWEA says, adding that in order to stabilise the bloc’s position for 2020, the new measures should include a 10 percent increase in the EU domestic greenhouse gas reduction — to 30 percent — by then.
Echoing the tripartite approach, European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) policy director Frauke Thies said: ‘Europe must now be willing to follow through on this vision for a clean and competitive energy future, showing clear political direction and enabling further investments. That means committing to new objectives for 2030, including an ambitious and legally binding target for renewable energy sources.’
The Heat Coalition, representing the renewable heating and cooling sector, says that the forthcoming climate and energy policy framework must also adequately address the 45 percent of Europe’s final energy consumption which the sector currently accounts for.
So, with the Commission having set out its stall and the industry having set out its basic proposition, we’re left to consider in more detail the central questions posed by the Commission. What type of energy targets should be set for 2030? And how can policy coherence be achieved across the EU27?
There are, of course, many other questions which need to be addressed in mapping out an economically achievable path to 2020, 2030, 2050 and beyond. And, in a bid to move the debate along, for this edition of Renewable Energy World magazine we’re also doing just that.