22nd Mar 2018

EU to reach renewables goal, no thanks to France and UK

  • 'Good prospects' for the EU-wide target of 20 percent renewable energy in 2020 will be reached, the report said (Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

The EU looks set to achieve its 2020 target of a 20 percent share of renewable energy, according to the European Commission's biennial progress report, published on Tuesday (16 June).

However, the EU target will only be reached because a number of member states, like Sweden, Denmark, and Lithuania, will overshoot their individual targets. France, the UK, and other countries are expected not to reach their targets unless they adopt new policies.

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  • The report gives a strong argument to environmental groups for using binding targets. (Photo: Marcelo Medeiros)

“With less than six years to go to the end of 2020, majority of the member states are well on track to meeting the renewable energy targets laid down in the Renewable Energy Directive”, the renewable energy progress report noted.

It said there are “good prospects” for the EU-wide target of 20 percent renewable energy in 2020 will be reached, but “additional measures might be needed for a number of member states”.

“Some member states, including France, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent Belgium and Spain need to assess whether their policies and tools are sufficient and effective in meeting their renewable energy objectives.”

“Achievement of the 2020 renewable energy targets is also not certain in the case of Hungary and Poland: it is only under optimistic assumptions related to the future development of energy demand and country-specific financing conditions that the 2020 renewable energy targets appear achievable.”

For his part, Green MEP Claude Turmes told this website in an e-mailed statement the 16-page report “lacks up-to-date information”.

“Why are the 2014 figures used only to measure the progress of the EU as a whole but not broken down by member states individually (only 2013 figures are mentioned)? … Indeed these figures would be embarrassing because they would show that nearly 0 MW [megawatt, the unit for power] were installed in Spain in 2014 because of retroactive regulatory changes, seriously threatening Spain's ability to fulfil its 2020 target”, wrote the Luxembourgian MEP.

Last week, Spanish media said that the centre-right Spanish government is planning to tax private electricity consumption generated by solar panels, which critics say will work as a deterrent.

The power of binding targets

The report also gave power to the arguments of environmental groups, which want the European Commission to create national targets for the period after 2020.

The commission said that “a binding target has been the key driver for renewable energy capacity development in those member states that were previously less striving to develop their renewable energy potential”.

Last October, EU government leaders agreed new targets for 2030, including an EU-wide renewable energy target of at least 27 percent, but it is only “binding at EU level” and not translated into national targets.

In a set of policy recommendations released on Monday (15 June), three environmental NGOs called for a “strong, transparent and reliable governance system”.

“Indicative national targets provide guidance to Member States for the national policies they need to put in place in order to meet and beat the EU target for renewable energy”, the green groups Greenpeace, WWF, and CAN wrote.

MEPs approve plan to put cap on older biofuels

The European Parliament's environment committee Tuesday approved a plan to try and steer investors away from traditional types of biofuels that have had negative side-effects on food prices, environment and climate change.

Green electricity growth stalling in Europe

Growth of renewable electricity in Europe in the next five years could be almost 30 percent higher if market and policy conditions improve, the International Energy Agency said.

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