EU countries reportedly considering scrapping 45% renewables target for 2030
EU countries are considering watering down the European Commission’s plan to ditch Russian fossil fuels, known as REPowerEU, including scrapping a proposed 45% renewable energy target for 2030, according to a document seen by EURACTIV.
The amendments made by EU countries to the European Commission’s REPowerEU proposal, tabled in May, could impact the speed of renewable energy deployment, which is crucial to decrease reliance on Russian fossil fuels and lower energy prices.
The amendments remove the Commission’s push to increase the target for renewables in Europe’s energy mix to 45%, replacing it with the 40% target agreed by EU countries in June.
This is below both the European Parliament’s and the European Commission’s positions, which both support the 45% target.
WWF, the environmental NGO, was highly critical of this.
“Raising the share of renewable energy to 45% by 2030 is our chance to address a threefold crisis at once: the climate breakdown, access to secure energy, and reducing energy prices for consumers in the medium term,” climate and energy policy officer at WWF Europe Romain Laugier told EURACTIV.
“If EU governments are truly committed to solving all three, they should sign up to this higher renewable energy target,” he added.
The amendments also delete the European Commission’s attempt to enshrine into EU law the principle that renewables should be considered a matter of “overriding public interest”.
If adopted, the principle would help protect new renewable projects against legal challenges, which have delayed the construction of wind farms in countries like France.
EU member states have kept the Commission’s proposal to create ‘go-to’ areas for renewables, or places particularly suited to renewable energy projects where they can be streamlined.
But the amendments introduced by EU member states increase the length of time required for permitting processes in those areas. While EU countries will still need to ensure the permit-granting process does not exceed a year for projects in go-to areas and two years elsewhere, the extension period for both has been increased.
Go-to areas are supported by the wind power industry as a way to speed up the rollout of renewables and simplify permitting.
“The Commission’s action plan on permitting ticks all the boxes. The legal proposals clarify what permits have to be issued within the existing deadlines and create ‘go-to’ areas where projects can go ahead even faster after a strategic environmental assessment,” said the CEO of WindEurope Giles Dixon in May.
There are now concerns that watering down these measures could slow down the rollout of renewables at a critical time for European energy security.
Other changes include allowing EU countries to choose whether to include hydropower plants in go-to areas and expanding the definition of go-to areas to include “land (including surfaces and subsurfaces) and sea or inland water areas that are particularly suitable to develop renewable energy projects”.
But the amendments neglect things like maritime spatial planning and mammal corridors, leading to possible conflicts between offshore renewables projects and other industries.
Kira Taylor, EurActiv.com
This article first appeared on EurActiv.com, an edie content partner