Strong growth in renewables is a ‘no regrets’ option

Publish date: June 7, 2012

Written by: Kristina Östman

The Commission will start a consultation for the EU’s 2030 renewable energy policy in the first half of 2013, European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, said in a press conference for the adoption of the Communication on Renewable Energy in Brussels on 6 June. He showed a personal preference for specific renewable energy targets for 2030, as emission trading is proving insufficient to give investors long-time certainty.

 “This is a very important and useful signal that the EU is taking the need for truly long-term predictable frameworks for renewable energy seriously. Emission trading is not the solution to everything,” says Frederic Hauge, president of The Bellona Foundation.

The Commission will start its consultation for the post-2020 renewable energy policies in the first half of 2013, to allow for adoption of legislation by the EU under the current Commission.

Commissioner Oettinger emphasised the necessity of a harmonised European internal energy market with long-term stability to drive renewable energy investments. The Communication hints about a promising future for renewable energy policies in Europe, but shies away from suggesting concrete measures.

A strong growth in renewable energy is described by Oettinger as a ‘no regrets’ option and today’s challenge is to ensure that growth continues after 2020. Investors need long-term certainty, and the Commission’s initial plan of presenting post-2020 targets by 2018 will not be sufficient. That is why they are starting the work on milestones for 2030 already today.

Three options are considered to achieve the continued growth: decarbonisation without specific renewable energy targets, relying on the carbon market and a revised ETS; the continuation of the 2020 regime, with binding targets for energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions; or an enhanced, harmonised management of the whole energy sector with an EU renewable energy target. Commissioner Oettinger expressed his personal support for a renewable energy target by 2030, claiming that only CO2 targets are insufficient.

To fully complete the internal energy market, energy policies in Member States need to be more harmonised than they are today. Through the Communication, the Commission commits to preparing guidance on best practice national support schemes and subsidies for renewables in order to achieve that harmonisation and avoid fragmentation to the internal energy market.

Trade of renewable energy will be income increasingly important, not only within the Union but also in neighbouring states. The potential for establishing an EU-Southern Mediterranean Energy Community which could ease cooperation with Northern African neighbours.

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