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EU sets higher binding targets for renewable energy consumption

The European Union (EU) is to increase the share of renewable energy in the bloc’s overall energy consumption, under a deal reached between national capitals and the European Parliament on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

Frans Timmermans
European Commission Vice President, Frans Timmermans

The energy produced from wind, solar, and other sustainable sources will amount to 42.5 per cent of consumption by 2030.

The consumption would go up from the current binding target of 32 per cent, a press release said.

“Renewable energy will power Europe’s future, and contribute to our energy sovereignty by reducing fossil fuel imports,’’ EU Commission Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, said.

In Germany 20.4 per cent of the energy consumed in 2022 came from renewable sources, according to the Federal Environment Agency.

German Economy Minister, Robert Habeck, called the new target a huge success for the EU.

“The pace of the energy transition is now increasing across Europe, also to become independent of fossil fuel imports faster,’’ he added.

To facilitate the uptake of renewables and to decrease emissions, sectors were to reach different sub-targets.

The new law is to introduce a minimum share of modern biofuels in the transport sector and said that at least 49 per cent of the energy used in the building sector was to be renewable.

Setting the targets has been the subject of lengthy negotiations between those favouring betting on nuclear power to combat climate change and those against its use, including Germany.

Under the compromise, nuclear power does not offset renewable energy in reaching the overall 42.5 per cent target but can contribute to a lower sub-target in the industrial sector.

Countries that consume a particularly small share of hydrogen made with fossil fuels can replace some of the binding renewable hydrogen shares with hydrogen made with other energy sources including nuclear energy.

Michael Bloss, a German EU lawmaker from the Green Party, said it was a success that nuclear energy would not contribute to achieving the overall target but added that it was a scandal that nuclear power played a role here at all.

Biomass energy, power generated by burning organic material like wood, must be subjected to stricter criteria.

Turning high-quality timber into firewood is to no longer qualify for subsidies, Markus Pieper, a German conservative EU lawmaker and chief negotiator for the European Parliament, said.

The new targets are part of wider efforts by the EU to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990-levels and to achieve climate neutrality in 2050.

“Renewables are key to Europe’s climate neutrality goal and will enable us to secure our long-term energy sovereignty,’’ said EU Energy Commissioner, Kadri Simson.

“With this deal, we are giving investors certainty and affirm the EU’s role as the global leader in renewables deployment, and frontrunner of the clean energy transition,’’ she added.

EU countries were to accelerate the permitting procedures for renewable energy projects.

Cutting red tape should shorten approval procedures for new wind parks from currently five to seven years to one to three years, Pieper said.

Member states and the European Parliament still have to formally approve the new EU law.

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