Thursday

20th Sep 2018

Bigger renewable energy targets feasible, says study

  • Since 2014 there have been significant cost reductions in renewable energy, especially in solar panels and offshore wind (Photo: Kim Hansen)

The European Union can reach a 34 percent share of renewable energy by 2030 in order to meet its Paris agreement emission reduction criteria, according to a recent report by the intergovernmental International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

If achieved, the 34 percent target would also help the bloc to boost jobs creation and competitiveness, whilst the target is "technically feasible", according to the report.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The study, funded by the European Commission, was published last week, ahead of the start on Tuesday (27 February) of negotiations between the commission, parliament and council – the 'trilogue' - on renewable energy.

During those negotiations, the three institutions will crunch the final form of the 2016 commission's renewable energy directive, that will set the the binding target of renewable energy sources in EU energy consumption for the 2020-2030 period.

Currently the EU is expected to reach a renewable share in its energy mix of 27 percent by 2030, after member states agreed on the target in 2014.

Tough discussions

The outcome of the negotiations will concern renewable electricity, cleaner heating and cooling, and decarbonised transport and will have implications for the EU environment, investors and industry.

Speaking during the presentation of the report, last Monday (19 February), climate and energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said that the three EU bodies "will try to broker an honest agreement for the planet and for citizens."

However, the trilogue is expected to result in a heated confrontation, especially over the divergent targets that the parliament and council have for renewables.

The proposal of the parliament, agreed in January, calls for a improvement of the share of renewable energy to "at least 35 percent" of the EU's energy mix by 2030 - close to the target IRENA suggests in its report.

On the council side, heads of state and government agreed in December 2017 to keep the 27 percent target already established in 2014, a position that provoked a general disappointmentof the environmental lobby groups.

Canete said that he hopes for a "balanced compromise" between the positions of the institutions.

But the council's proposal is not in line with a "cost efficiency" approach nor with the purpose of achieving the goals of the Paris agreement, S&D MEP Jose Blanco Lopez, noted.

The solution should be "in line" with the threat from climate change and "the future of the planet should prevail", Lopez, who is rapporteur of the parliament's directive on renewables, added.

Zhecho Stankov, Bulgarian deputy energy minister, called instead for a "win-win solution" for European citizens and industry.

Both potential developments and "national specificities" need to be taken into account for creating a compromise, Stankov said.

A technically feasible target

According to IRENA, the percentage of EU renewables has significantly grown in the last years - mainly thanks to technological developments and cost reductions - from nine percent in 2005 to a 16.7 percent of the total share in 2015.

Major cost reductions, especially in solar panels and offshore wind, have taken place since 2014, helping the EU to be on track for meeting its 2020 renewables target of 20 percent of the total energy, the report explains.

For these reasons, Canete said that the 27 percent objective is "not very far from 'business as usual'."

On the other hand, a 34 percent target would be "technically feasible, economically viable and beneficial," IRENA's general director Adnan Amin said.

According to the report, the share of renewable energy in the power sector could rise to 50 percent by 2030, while it could account for 42 percent of energy in buildings, 36 percent in industry and 17 percent in transport.

To meet the 34 percent objective, an average investment of €62 billion per year by 2030 would be required, experts said during the presentation.

Additional costs are however "outweighed by the benefits" when health and environmental externalities are considered, reaching savings between €44bn to €113bn per year, Amin explained.

IRENA's general director pointed out that currently about 400,000 people die prematurely in Europe each year because of air pollution.

Positive aspects in the job creation should also be taken into account, since there are 1.2 million people now working in the sector, and the number could increase significantly, Amin said.

EU on track to meet renewable energy target

The European Union is surpass its target of 20 percent of its consumption of energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to national forecasts submitted to the European Commission.

Opinion

Clean energy package needs market, not just targets

While discussions on targets and objectives are important, the focus must not be on the percentage, but rather on delivering fundamental market reforms in order to reach targets in place.

Germany to let slip 2020 climate target

Prospective governing coalition partners give up on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in 2020, saying instead they will achieve that in the early 2020s.

Opinion

More commitment to renewables from Council, please

More and more consumers are likely to invest in solar panels in the future as it becomes simpler to produce one's own electricity, writes Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation.

News in Brief

  1. Greece to move asylum-seekers from overcrowded Lesbos camp
  2. Transatlantic soya trade soars due to trade wars
  3. EU tables strategy for connecting Europe and Asia
  4. Bulgaria backs Hungary in dispute with EU
  5. Trump urged Spain to build Sahara wall to stop migrants
  6. EU-Arab League summit proposed for February in Egypt
  7. Stop 'migration blame-game', Tusk tells EU leaders
  8. McDonald's Luxembourg tax deal 'compatible' with EU rules

Focus

EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo

A long-standing cooperation between the EU and China on carbon capture and storage has fallen off the political agenda – with the European Commission not having any comment available when asked for an update.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Latest News

  1. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner
  2. EU mulls action to prevent cattle suffering at Turkish border
  3. Safeguarding Schengen at Salzburg
  4. Denmark's image 'damaged' by bank scandal
  5. Real Brexit progress needed by October, Barnier says
  6. Poland to face EU top court on rule of law
  7. Austria's EU presidency: a bridge over troubled water?
  8. EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  4. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  5. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  8. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  10. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us