Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

EU unveils plan to increase renewables share in energy mix to 40 pct by 2030

LONDON (REUTERS) – The European Union must increase the amount of renewable energy it uses and cut energy consumption by 2030 under proposals the bloc’s executive Commission published on Wednesday (July 14) to help meet a more ambitious goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of a package of climate policies, the Commission proposed an overhaul of EU renewable energy rules, which decide how quickly the bloc must increase the use of sources such as wind, solar and biomass energy produced from burning wood pellets or chips.

The aim is to implement legally-binding targets to reduce net EU emissions by 55 per cent by 2030, from 1990 levels, and eliminate them by 2050.

To help meet the 2050 goal, the Commission has set a more ambitious interim target for the EU to raise the share of renewable energy to 40 per cent of final consumption by 2030, up from roughly 20 per cent in 2019.

That replaces a previous target for a 32 per cent renewables target by 2030, which Commission estimates suggest the bloc was on track to meet.

The Commission proposed also tightening rules that determine whether wood-burning energy can be classed as renewable and count towards green goals.

It requires biomass-fuelled power and heat plants with a capacity of 5 megawatts (MW) or above to meet sustainability criteria, and provide substantial emissions cuts compared with burning fossil fuels.

Biomass plants with a capacity below 20 MW are currently exempt from those requirements.

Energy efficiency

The package of policies, called “Fit for 55”, also includes fuel tax changes and reforms to the EU carbon market. All must be negotiated by EU countries and the European Parliament, a process that can take roughly two years.

It also targets energy savings, setting a goal for EU countries to collectively cut energy consumption by 9 per cent by 2030, compared with their projected energy use by that date under current plans.

To hit that goal, countries will be required to put in place measures to cut their final energy consumption by 1.5 per cent each year from 2024 to 2030, nearly doubling an existing requirement of 0.8 per cent.

To hit that goal, countries will be required to put in place measures to cut their final energy consumption by 1.5 per cent each year from 2024 to 2030, nearly doubling an existing requirement of 0.8 per cent.

That could be done by insulating buildings or installing more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Europe renovates just 1 per cent of buildings to save energy each year. Brussels hopes countries will use the EU’s 800 billion euro (S$1.28 trillion) Covid-19 economic recovery fund to launch a wave of green renovations, boosting construction sector jobs.

The Commission said all revenues from carbon permit auctions under the EU’s Emissions Trading System and national CO2 auctions will have to be channelled to green investments, including investments in energy efficiency measures and renewables.

The Commission also proposed countries renovate 3 per cent of buildings owned or occupied by public bodies each year to transform them into “nearly zero-energy buildings”.

That would include hospitals, government buildings, schools and social housing, and amount to more than 700,000 buildings being renovated per year, based on industry estimates.

Currently, countries are required to renovate 3 per cent of central government buildings to weaker standards. Central government buildings make up less than 1 per cent of the roughly 260 million buildings in the EU, while public buildings make up roughly 10 per cent.

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