On October 9th the European Council adopted the new Renewables Energy Directive to raise the share of renewable energy in the EU’s overall energy consumption to 42.5% by 2030 with an additional 2.5% indicative top up to allow the target of 45% to be achieved. Each member state will contribute to this common target.
All member states will contribute to achieving more ambitious sector-specific targets in transport, industry, buildings and district heating and cooling. The purpose of the sub-targets is to speed up the integration of renewables in sectors where incorporation has been slower.
“This is a great achievement in the framework of the ´Fit for 55´package which will help to achieve the EU’s climate goal of reducing EU emissions by at least 55% by 2030. It is a step forward which will contribute to reaching the EU´s climate targets in a fair, cost-effective, and competitive way,” Teresa Ribera, Spanish acting Minister for the Ecological Transition Transport, stated.
Member states will have the possibility to choose between:
- a binding target of a 14.5% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity in transport from the use of renewables by 2030
- or a binding share of at least 29% of renewables within the final consumption of energy in the transport sector by 2030.
The new rules establish a binding combined sub-target of 5.5% for advanced biofuels (generally derived from non-food-based feedstocks) and renewable fuels of non-biological origin (mostly renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-based synthetic fuels) in the share of renewable energies supplied to the transport sector. Within this target, there is a minimum requirement of 1% of renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs) in the share of renewable energies supplied to the transport sector in 2030.
The directive states that industry will need to increase the use of renewable energy annually by 1.6%. Member states agreed that 42% of the hydrogen used in industry should come from renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs) by 2030 and 60% by 2035.
Member states will have the possibility to discount the contribution of RFNBOs in industry use by 20% under two conditions:
- if the member states’ national contribution to the binding overall EU target meets their expected contribution
- the share of hydrogen from fossil fuels consumed in the member state is not more 23% in 2030 and 20% in 2035
Buildings, heating, and cooling
The new rules set an indicative target of at least a 49% renewable energy share in buildings in 2030.
Renewable targets for heating and cooling will gradually increase, with a binding increase of 0.8% per year at national level until 2026 and 1.1% from 2026 to 2030. The minimum annual average rate applicable to all member states is complemented by additional indicative increases calculated specifically for each member state.
The directive strengthens the sustainability criteria for the use of biomass for energy, in order to reduce the risk of unsustainable bioenergy production. Member states will ensure that the cascading principle is applied, with a focus on support schemes and with due regard to national specificities.
Faster permits for projects
Permit procedures for renewable energy projects will be accelerated. The intention is to fast-track the deployment of renewable energies in the context of the EU’s REPowerEU plan to become independent from Russian fossil fuels, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Member states will design renewables acceleration areas where renewable energy projects will undergo simplified and fast permit-granting processes. Renewable energy deployment will also be presumed to be of ‘overriding public interest’, which will limit the grounds of legal objections to new installations.
The directive has been formally adopted. It will now be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later. Member states will have 18 months after the entry into force of the directive to transpose it into national legislation.
The proposal to revise the renewable energy directive, along with other proposals, is a response to the energy aspects of the EU’s climate transition under the ‘Fit for 55’ package.
The European Commission presented the ‘Fit for 55’ package on 14 July 2021. This package aims to align the EU’s climate and energy legislative framework with its 2050 climate neutrality objective and with its objective of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
In addition, as part of the REPowerEU plan, on 18 May 2022, the European Commission proposed a series of additional targeted amendments to the renewable energy directive to reflect recent changes in the energy landscape. The elements of the proposal were integrated into the directive adopted on October 9th.
The current renewable energy directive has been in force since December 2018 and has been legally binding since June 2021. It sets an EU-level target of 32% share of renewable energy in the total EU energy consumption by 2030 at EU level.
The new directive will amend the current directive. The changes will become legally binding 18 months after its entry into force.