Joint call for European ‘industrial leadership’ on renewables
A coalition of industries ranging from solar to geothermal and biomass has called on the incoming Austrian Presidency of the EU to support a target of “at least 35%” for renewable energies by 2030, saying it will provide a stable environment for investors.
“Austria has shown great ambition as a leader in renewable energy,” the industry coalition said in a joint letter sent today (28 March) to Elisabeth Köstinger, Austria’s minister of sustainability and tourism, and Sebastian Kurz, the country’s Chancellor. Austria takes over the EU presidency on 1 July.
“We believe that your presidency should be an opportunity to deliver on Europe’s energy transition,” reads the letter, obtained by EURACTIV.
Renewable energy costs have fallen sharply in recent years, leading the European Commission to update the cost-benefit analysis it presented in November 2016, when it tabled a revision of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive.
Reaching the EU target of 27% renewables by 2030 would be €2.9 billion cheaper per year than under the previous analysis, the Commission argued, suggesting that a 30% target for 2030 would now be “affordable”.
Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU Commissioner in charge of Energy and Climate Action, is now openly campaigning to raise the bloc’s level of ambition on renewables.
The European Parliament has already voted in favour of a 35% target, winning praise from the Spanish commissioner who congratulated MEPs for “aiming high on renewables”.
The directive is part of a ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ legislative package, which is currently being negotiated between lawmakers in the EU Parliament and the Council of Ministers, representing the 28 EU member states.
In December, EU national governments agreed a target of 27%, disappointing environmental campaigners who see it as too little to combat climate change.
But industry dynamics are shaking up the discussion among EU legislators. “Renewables are the cheapest source of energy today and offer an increasingly cost-efficient option to reach Europe’s climate and energy goals,” the coalition wrote, saying the industry currently employs 1.1 million people, a figure that is expected to rise to 3 million by 2030.
While controlling public expenditure remains a key priority across many EU countries, “it is crucial to direct our future investments towards clean technologies, and the jobs, of the future,” the coalition argues, calling for subsidies to fossil fuels and other polluting sources of energy to be eliminated.
Among its key asks, the coalition lists:
- A target of “at least 35%” renewable energy by 2030.
- Maintain “priority access and dispatch” for small-scale installations like solar panels.
- Support for the uptake of renewable energy self-consumption in Europe, which “will be at the core of a consumer-powered Energy Union”.
- Defend a “rigorous CO2-criterion of 550gCO2/kwh for capacity mechanisms” – or state aid to emergency power plants.
- “Ambitious targets and policies” for the heating and cooling sector.
- A strong carbon price.
The letter was co-signed by EGEC Geothermal, the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (ESTELA), the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), Ocean Energy Europe, Solar Heat Europe, Solar Power Europe, the European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), the European Biogas Association (EBA), the Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC), and the European Renewable Energies Federation (EREF).