European politicians need to endorse a new binding 2030 target for renewable energy sources if they want to take advantage of the EU’s position as global technological leader in onshore and offshore wind power. That was the message Wednesday from Stephane Bourgeois, Head of Regulatory Affairs at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in Brussels, following the European Commission’s Communication on “Renewable energy: a major player in the European energy market.”
The EC Communication looks at how renewable energy will be integrated into the single market and outlines possible policy options for beyond 2020, to “ensure continuity and stability, enabling Europe’s renewable energy production to grow to 2030 and beyond,” the Commission says.
In a press release, EWEA noted the EC’s new Renewable Energy Strategy highlighted several major reasons to favour legally binding renewable energy targets for 2030, including the creation of three million local jobs, increased security of energy supplies and fewer imported costly fossil fuels.
“European Ministers must turn this message into action and back a renewable energy target for 2030, as supported by the Strategy’s Impact Assessment,” Bourgeois said. “A legally binding renewable energy target for 2030 is crucial if we want to foster Europe’s leadership in wind energy, and in particular offshore wind”.
EWEA also backed the Commission’s criticism of recent abrupt changes in support mechanisms for renewable energies in several EU Member States: “Retroactive changes in support mechanisms undermine investor confidence in the sector and could put the 2020 renewable energy targets at risk. We share the Commission’s concerns, but the Commission must now take all legal means to prevent this”, said Bourgeois.
Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger stated in a press release that the region should continue to develop renewable energy and promote innovative solutions in a cost-efficient way.
The Commission insists on the need to complete the internal energy market and acknowledges the requirement to address power generation investment incentives to allow for a smooth integration of renewables into the market as well as increasing trading in order to produce wind and solar power where it makes the most sense.
Noting the Commission favours schemes that encourage cost reductions while calling for support schemes to be more consistent across Member States in order to avoid unnecessary barriers, the press release added that “for the time beyond 2020, the Communication acknowledges that without a suitable framework renewable energy growth will slump.”
The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) said it was disappointed that the Communication did not embrace a 2030 agenda for renewable energy.
EREC said it “welcomes the Commission’s focus on implementing and enforcing the 2020 target for renewables” but warned that growth in the sector will slump if a post-2020 policy framework is not developed.
Arthouros Zervos, President of EREC, said it is important that the EU, despite the ongoing economic crisis, meet its 20% target for renewables by 2020.
Zervos, who is also President of EWEA, pointed out that the European renewables industry believes the EU could reach a total of 24.4% renewables by the end of this decade.
Zervos added that trends suggest there could be annual growth in renewables of 6.3% between 2010 and 2020. He said similar “ambitious and optimistic targets” could boost the level of renewables to 45% by 2030. That, in turn, would result in 4.4 million jobs in the European sector.
Josche Muth, Secretary General of EREC, noted that an Impact Assessment accompanying the EC communication “clearly shows binding targets for renewables as the option offering most security to the industry towards 2030.” Muth added, however, the communication “falls short of bringing this to the fore of the political debate.”
Meanwhile, a coalition of progressive European energy companies (SSE, Eneco, DONG Energy, EWE, Acciona, Sorgenia, PPC, EDP Renewables and Stadtwerke München) also favoured a binding EU 2030 renewables target.
“Alongside strengthening the EU ETS, a binding 2030 renewables target is needed to bridge the policy gap between 2020 and 2050 and to allow the renewables industry to mature and to reach cost competitiveness,” a coalition press release said. “In the absence of a binding 2030 target, renewable growth is put at great risk, which will undermine the decarbonisation scenarios of the EU Energy Roadmap 2050, as well as the overarching EU 2050 carbon reduction target of 80-95%.”