S.4.1. The Renewable Energy Directive

D.4.1. The Renewable Energy Directive

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ITRE Report supports higher RES target

Thursday, March 15, 2018

According to the Report, a 30-35% by 2030 RES target is a feasible objective

The EU is on track to meet its 2020 goals – a 20% greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, and a 20% share of RES in final energy demand. However,  there are currently heated debates over how to proceed after 2020, the kind of targets to adopt, and the 2030 framework.

Recently, the EP’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) published a study suitably called ‘Renewable Energy Directive Target’, which “investigates the impacts and feasibility of increasing the share of renewables beyond the proposed target of 27% for 2030 through a review of recent studies assessing the future energy system in the EU”. The authors state that “RES have diverse impacts on the energy system, the wider economy, and society” so the following criteria need to be taken into account: (i) energy system costs; (ii) avoided CO2 emissions; (iii) avoided fossil fuel imports; (iv) health effects; and (v) changes in GDP and employment.

The study concludes that, from a cost perspective, “a more ambitious RES target of 30%-35% appears to be a realistic objective for 2030 as: (i) the impacts of a higher RES share on GDP and employment and health are projected to be positive, even though limited, according to most studies analysed; (ii) imports of fossil fuels and GHG emissions are projected to decrease (assuming that emission levels are not constrained by an overall emission cap);  and (iii) some studies project low or no increase in overall energy system costs, while one recent study even reports cost reductions”.

Based on their findings, the study’s authors make the following recommendations: (i) “given higher RES targets, system adequacy in the electricity sector needs to be closely monitored; (ii) targets for GHG reduction, RES and EE need to be coordinated; (iii) industrial competitiveness and energy poverty need to be taken into consideration when designing support policies and burden sharing regulation; and (iv) additional modelling with adapted technology costs and potentially social discount rates for assessing aggregated energy system costs is recommended”.

Currently, the RES Directive is under discussion in the so-called trilogues between the EC, the EP, and the Council, which started on 27 February 2018. According to the positions adopted by the co-legislators, the Council wants to keep the 27% EC target, while the EP supports a more ambitious target of 35% by 2030.