Written by 3:38 pm European Union

European Parliament backs 45% renewable energy goal for 2030 – EURACTIV.com

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday (14 September) in favour of a 45% target for renewable energy in the EU’s energy mix by 2030, paving the way for negotiations with the 27 member states to finalise the text before the end of the year.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is “a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future”.

Those words were those of Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President who was addressing Parliament on Wednesday in her annual State of the Union speech.

And MEPs apparently took note. With 418 votes in favour, 109 against and 111 abstentions, the Parliament adopted a new revision of the 2018 directive on renewable energies, part of the ‘Fit for 55’ climate package presented last year, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% before the end of the decade.

If this target is confirmed by EU member states in upcoming talks with Parliament later this year, the EU will have to achieve a 45% share of renewables in its overall energy mix by 2030.

“This is a good day for energy transition in Europe”, said Markus Pieper, a German MEP from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) who is the Parliament’s lead negotiator on the text.

The alliance between the EPP, the centrist Renew Europe and the left-wing S&D ended up prevailing over the fears of Green MEPs, who nonetheless overwhelmingly voted in favour of the text, unlike the members of The Left.

Manon Aubry, a French MEP who is co-chair of The Left group in Parliament, told EURACTIV.fr she abstained because the directive is “not ambitious enough” and does not propose “binding national renewable energy targets” on EU countries.

The 45% target is higher than the 40% endorsed by the member states in June – a decision that did not take into account the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the Commission’s REPowerEU plan presented in May, which revised this target upwards.

To achieve the EU-wide goal, each EU country will have to implement a minimum of two cross-border electricity projects, and even three for those with an annual electricity consumption of more than 100 terawatt-hours (TWh).

Target insufficient according to the left and Greens

The Greens and The Left tried pushing for an even higher renewable target of 55-56% by 2030 in order to reach 100% renewables by 2040.

The radical left was also against maintaining biomass in the definition of renewable energy.

MEPs finally supported the inclusion of biomass in the EU’s renewable energy mix but at a level that should not exceed the average recorded in 2017-2022, bearing in mind that bioenergy represents almost 60% of the EU’s renewable energy sources.

And while the Parliament text introduces a progressive phase down of biomass, it does not indicate an end date, which did not satisfy environmentalists and the left, who called for a complete phase out by 2030.

“What many of you are proposing is to continue to burn forests for the sake of the climate,” Marie Toussaint, a French Green/EFA MEP, told the Parliament.

Still, the text supports an end to subsidies for biomass used in power plants, as well as the exclusion of palm oil and soya from transport biofuels.

RED IV coming soon

The Parliament text also also defines sub-targets for sectors such as transport, buildings, and district heating and cooling.

As for the definition of “green” hydrogen from renewables, MEPs deferred the matter to another EU law that will also define “low-carbon” hydrogen produced for instance from nuclear energy.

The text also includes an increase from 13% to 16% in the greenhouse gas emission reduction target for transport, as well as a 5.7% share of renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) in the fuel market by 2030, as set out in the Commission’s REPowerEU programme.

However, the REPowerEU goals such as the definition of “go-to areas” and faster permitting procedures for renewable energies were not included in this version of the directive.

The rapporteur, Markus Pieper, tried to merge these objectives into the text but eventually backed down for legal reasons.

A new revision of the directive (RED IV) will be presented at the end of September, Pieper said, with the idea to merge the two revision procedures during final talks with EU member states later in the year.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic and Frédéric Simon]

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