Groups call for EU “green heat” legislation

A coalition of 40 renewable energy and environmental groups from around the EU has demanded a new directive to require at least 25% of heating and cooling to come from renewable sources by 2020. The law must also include differentiated, legally binding national targets, it said.

Led by the European renewable energy council (Erec), the groups claim that current EU policies neglect renewable heating despite the fact that heat is larger consumer of energy than transport or electricity. National efforts to promote renewable heating are fragmented and uneven, they add.

In a communication last May the European Commission acknowledged that disappointing progress on renewable heat was jeopardising progress towards a target of 12% renewable energy by 2010 it put forward in 1997.

But the EU executive said that establishing renewable heating targets would be “difficult” and promised “instead” three “initiatives” – which might or might not involve legislation – to promote biomass heating, solar heating and geothermal heat. It is due to propose an action plan on biomass energy, including heat, later this year.

Erec and partners are demanding a wider heat law covering not only biomass but also solar thermal and geothermal technologies. Only such a general commitment, integrating legally binding targets, will provide sufficient focus, they claim.

As well as legal targets, the groups demand that a future directive should set a “positive framework” for financial support mechanisms without seeking to harmonise them. National administrative barriers and “unfavourable bureaucratic conditions” should be removed, they say. And statistics on renewable heat should be improved.

If a renewable heat directive were passed it would join existing EU legislation targeting 22% renewable electricity and a 5.75% share for transport biofuels by 2010. Even if EU states fully implement both laws, the EU-15 share of renewable energy will only reach 10%, the Commission said last May. The remaining gap of 21m tonnes oil equivalent (mtoe) would have to be filled by renewable heat, it noted.

According to Erec, the European Commission might now be more responsive to the idea of a renewable heating and cooling directive. The body revealed that it recently received Commission funding to look at ways to overcome barriers to setting targets.

Influential MEP Mechtild Rothe has also backed the groups’ call for a directive. She is pushing for the European parliament to produce an own-initiative report on the issue.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily

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