EU to give a fresh boost to European energy transition

As part of the ‘Smart Energy Showcases – Digital Agenda for the Energy Transition’ (SINTEG) programme, five model regions are showing how digital networking can be used to transform the energy sector.

Cultivaed landscape with canal and solar farms.© iStock/nullplus

The ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ proposal will provide the EU with a new legislative framework for energy up until 2030. Last week, the European Member States agreed on a compromise on the first part of the legislative package in the Council of the European Union. This compromise covers the updated Renewable Energy Directive, the updated Energy Efficiency Directive, and the new Governance Regulation.

The EU’s revised Renewable Energy Directive

The revised Renewable Energy Directive will provide the EU with a new framework for the funding of renewable energy. The share of renewable energy in final energy consumption within the EU is to increase to at least 32 per cent by 2030. The Directive sets out a number of measures designed to reach this goal in the electricity, heat and transport sectors.

For example, the Member States will need to increase the share of renewable energy they use for heating and cooling by 1.3 percentage points from 2021 onwards. In the transport sector, the share of renewable fuels is to increase by 14 per cent by 2030 – this is to be achieved by using new technologies such as electric mobility and power to X (using electricity to generate synthetic fuels). The updated Directive will also restrict the share of first-generation biofuels – biofuels that are produced from food crops.

The EU’s revised Energy Efficiency Directive

The revised Energy Efficiency Directive seeks to reduce primary energy consumption within the EU by 32.5 per cent by 2030 compared with a reference scenario. The key instrument for the implementation of the Directive – the energy savings obligation scheme – has been strengthened, with real savings of 0.8 per cent per year having been agreed for the first time. Up until now, the Member States had to adopt measures to achieve 1.5 per cent energy savings each year; however there were a large number of exemptions by which countries could reduce this target.

New Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union

Under the new Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union (click here to learn more), the Member States will need to adopt Integrated National Energy and Climate Plans – similar to Germany’s Energy Concept – by 2030, and also develop long-term strategies covering the period up until 2050. The new Regulation will help make the plans presented by the Member States comparable and encourages consultation of the plans not only at the national level but also with neighbouring countries. This will help better coordinate national energy and climate change mitigation policies. The NECP drafts need to be submitted to the Commission by the end of December 2018, the final versions by the end of December 2019.

The Governance Regulation sets out corrective action that will ensure that the Member States will meet the EU’s renewable energy and energy efficiency targets to be achieved by 2030. It also includes clear rules in the event that the Member States’ efforts are insufficient to meet the EU’s 2030 renewable energy target. If there is a gap at EU level, the countries that have fallen short of their national targets will need to adopt additional measures. The Regulation also introduces a new European funding mechanism that will help ensure that the targets are met. Similar rules will be introduced for meeting the energy efficiency target. The Commission will review the progress the EU is making towards reaching the target in three reference years and, if necessary, take corrective action.

Agreement reached in Brussels is an important milestone

The agreement reached between the Member States, the European Parliament and the European Commission on the first part of the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” legislative package is an important political achievement showing that the European Union is able to act and it is an important milestone on the road towards transforming the energy supply and protect the climate in Europe. The agreement will help protect investments made in the period up until 2030. The agreement that has been reached in Brussels is a compromise that helps bring together the interests of different parties and concludes several years of tough, intensive negotiations between the Member States in the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers need to give formal consent to the legislative acts before these can enter into force.