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16th Apr 2024

Green MEPs in final push for bigger renewables share

  • Under an envisaged fully renewables-based energy system by 2040, up to 0.5 percent of the EU would be covered with PV installations (Photo: Andreas Gücklhorn)
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Green MEPs are pushing to increase the share of renewables in the EU's final energy consumption mix to 56 percent by 2030 — in a bid to accelerate the energy transition of EU member states.

The European Parliament will vote on the final text of its report on the revised renewable energy directive (RED) next week during their plenary session in Strasbourg.

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  • Christian Breyer, one of the authors of the report, argues that a full renewables-based energy system is feasible in Europe way before 2050 (Photo: EU PVSEC)

EU lawmakers in the industry and energy committee agreed in July that the share of renewable energy had to be raised to 45 percent by 2030 — up from the 40 percent the EU Commission proposed previously under the under the RePowerEU.

But Green MEPs argue such a target is not ambitious enough and can be increased — including binding national and sectoral sub-targets and investing in energy efficiency.

"It will be difficult to reach the majority … but we are trying to show that we can do even more," said Finish MEP Ville Niinistö.

Meanwhile, Europe could achieve an energy system that is fully based on renewables before 2050, according to a study undertaken by the Finish LUT University and commissioned by Greens/EFA group published on Thursday (8 September).

The research, which presents scenarios with solar and wind energy as the primary source of electricity generation, shows that Europe could reach a full renewables energy system by 2040 — or even 2035 with massive investment.

Although proposals of systems fully-based on renewables have been met with scepticism around the world, the authors of this research argue that such scenarios are both "technologically feasible and cost-competitive" across Europe.

In the EU, this green energy system would require annual installations of solar PV to increase three-fold compared to 2021. This could be translated into installations of solar PV on 1.3 million residential roofs, 104,000 commercial and industrial systems, and 1,000 power plants per year, according to Christian Breyer, one of the authors of the study.

Wind onshore would also have to increase by 300 percent and offshore by 15 times — which means 5,000-6,000 onshore turbines per year and 1,000 offshore turbines per year.

Under this scenario, up to 0.5 percent of the EU area would be covered with PV installations and 1.5 percent with wind turbines by 2040 — whilst putting in place measures to offset the impact on biodiversity.

Sweden leads the way

The research argues that electrification of energy-intensive sectors such as road transport, heating and industrial processes thanks to e-fuels and e-chemicals would be key to achieving a full renewables-based energy system.

While solar and wind power would be the main sources of electricity generation, the authors acknowledge that other renewables such as hydropower, wave energy and bioenergy would also have to play their part — and be combined with electricity and thermal storage systems in buildings and industrial plants.

"Energy storage plays a critical role in the transition of the energy system towards high shares of renewables by providing stability and flexibility," reads the study.

According to the authors, achieving a full renewables-based economy by 2040 would require public and private investment across the EU of about €1.7 trillion by 2030 — similar to the EU's long-term budget (2021-2027) and the stimulus package adopted after the pandemic.

In 2020, renewables represented only 22 percent of the energy consumed in the EU, according to Eurostat.

Sweden generates more than half of its energy from renewables (60 percent), followed by Finland (44 percent) and Latvia (42 percent). By contrast, Malta (11 percent), Luxembourg (12 percent) and Belgium (13 percent) were the EU member states with the lowest renewables shares in 2020.

In a separate vote, MEPs will also vote on the revision of the energy efficiency directive (EED), which sets energy-saving targets for energy consumption in the EU.

MEPs agree higher renewables targets, energy-savings

The European Parliament agreed on higher renewable and energy-saving targets for energy consumption in the EU — amid an energy crisis which has prompted the EU to put forward unprecedented measures to curb high energy prices.

EU aims to speed up renewables permits, removing safeguards

The proposal shortens the approval period for new renewable energy installations from twelve to nine months, and requires member states to determine so-called "renewables acceleration areas" where rapid deployment of renewables are allowed.

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