This deal brings the EU one step closer to completing the “Fit for 55” legislation to deliver the European Green Deal and the REPowerEU objectives. The agreement raises the EU’s binding renewable target for 2030 to a minimum of 42.5%, up from the current 32% target and almost doubling the existing share of renewable energy in the EU. Negotiators also agreed that the EU would aim to reach 45% of renewables by 2030.
The agreement reaffirms the EU’s determination to gain its energy independence through a faster deployment of home-grown renewable energy, and to meet the EU’s 55% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2030. A massive scaling-up and speeding-up of renewable energy across power generation, industry, buildings and transport will reduce energy prices over time and decrease the EU’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.
A larger share of renewables to achieve a decarbonised economy
Permitting procedures will be easier and faster under the new law. Renewable energy will be recognised as an overriding public interest, while preserving a high level of environmental protection. In areas with high renewables potential and low environmental risks, Member States will put in place dedicated acceleration areas for renewables, with particularly short and simple permitting processes. The provisional agreement also enhances cross-border cooperation on renewables.
The agreement includes targets and measures to support the uptake of renewables across various sectors of the economy. The revised Directive strengthens annual renewables targets for the heating and cooling sector and for renewable energy used in district heating systems. It introduces a specific renewable energy benchmark of 49% for energy consumption in buildings by 2030 to complement EU buildings legislation and guide Member States’ efforts.
As a key energy-consuming sector, industry is included for the first time in the Renewable Energy Directive. The agreement establishes indicative targets (1.6% of annual increase in renewable energy use) as well as a binding target to reach 42% of renewable hydrogen in total hydrogen consumption in industry by 2030. The agreement also reinforces the regulatory framework for renewable energy use in transport (14.5% greenhouse gas intensity reduction or 29% share of renewable energy in final energy consumption), including a combined sub-target of 5.5% for advanced biofuels and renewable fuels of non-biological origin, including a minimum level of 1% for renewable fuels of non-biological origin. These targets support the EU’s ambitions on renewable hydrogen roll-out.
The agreement also contains provisions to support energy system integration via electrification and waste heat uptake as well an enhanced system of guarantees of origin to improve consumers’ information.
A more sustainable use of bioenergy in line with ambitious climate goals
The agreement strengthens the bioenergy sustainability criteria, in line with the increased climate and biodiversity ambition of the European Green Deal. In the future, these criteria will apply to smaller installations (equal or above 7.5 MW) rather than the 20 MW threshold under the current directive. The agreement includes provisions to ensure that forest biomass is not sourced from certain areas with a particular importance from a biodiversity and carbon stock perspective. In addition, the agreed rules establish that woody biomass will have to be used according to its highest economic and environmental added value (so-called cascading use). Financial support will be banned for energy produced through the use of saw logs, veneer logs, industrial grade roundwood, and stumps and roots.
Today’s provisional agreement now requires formal adoption by the European Parliament and the Council. Once this process is completed, the new legislation will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and enter into force.
The European Green Deal is the EU’s long-term growth strategy to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. The revision of the Renewable Efficiency Directive is one of the ‘Fit for 55′ proposals presented by the Commission in July 2021 to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Accelerating and increasing the deployment renewables by the end of the next decade is crucial to Europe becoming the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050 and making the European Green Deal a reality.
Ramping up our production and use of renewable energy is also a key pillar of the REPowerEU Plan, which is the EU’s strategy to get rid of Russian fossil fuel imports as soon as possible. In May 2022, the Commission proposed as part of the REPowerEU Plan to further accelerate the role out of renewables, including an increase of the binding Renewables Target proposed under the ‘Fit for 55′ package of European Green Deal legislation.