RE bodies' dismay at EC 27%

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has slammed the European Commission for setting a “weak” 2030 renewable energy target of 27%, joining other industry groups in criticising the plan.

The 27% EU target – binding for the bloc as a whole, but which does not include the setting of binding national goals – accompanied a proposed 40% emissions reduction target in the EC’s 2030 climate and energy plan, released today.

EWEA claimed the proposed targets – which still must be approved by EU heads of state – are a “capitulation to anti-renewables lobby groups” that ignores the EU’s own parliament, which has already backed a 30% goal at its committee stage.

EWEA CEO Thomas Becker said: "The previously far-sighted and ambitious European Commission is a shadow of its former self, hiding behind the UK and other backward-looking Member States and lobbies.

"By effectively advocating repatriation of energy policy to member states, President Barroso appears to have forgotten his previous calls for ‘more European integration" on energy policy.

"The Heads of State now need to show leadership and agree an ambitious 2030 climate and energy framework that benefits Europe and allows its world-leading wind energy sector to make Europe more prosperous and secure."

The climate and energy package – which was the subject of furious behind-the-scenes horse-trading in Brussels over the last few months – is viewed as a big concession to the position of the UK, which has long argued for emissions but not renewables targets that leave member states free to pursue other low-carbon options, notably nuclear.

RenewableUK said the abandonment of national-level renewables targets showed a lack of ambition.

The industry body’s CEO Maria McCaffery said:“While it is pleasing to see the EU Commission recognise that renewable energy is a key part of future energy solutions across Europe, the lack of ambition in not ensuring there are national binding targets for renewable energy is a disappointment.”

McCaffery added:“This is a missed opportunity for member states to take collective and serious action on the drive for clean, sustainable, renewable energy, which is the best option for reducing our carbon emissions.

“The Commission has gone out of its way to point out that member states are still free to set their own nationally binding renewable energy targets, so it is not too late for the UK Government to take leadership on this issue.”

European solar industry body EPIA was equally unimpressed, labelling the package a "lame duck".

EPIA said: "27% renewables by 2030 is indeed barely more than the Commission's business-as-usual scenario. In addition, it is an EU-wide target without binding national breakdowns. We are now looking at the European Council to make this supposedly binding target meaningful, by turning it into real national binding targets."

Austrian wind power association IG Windkraft accused the EC of having“mutated” into a subsidiary of the nuclear industry.

“The EU commission’s draft published today is a clear declaration of war against the Energiewende (the shift from nuclear to renewable energy),” IG Windkraft managing director Stefan Moidl claimed.

A single binding greenhouse gas target not only gives atomic energy the possibility for a renewed expansion in Europe, but decisively mutes the build-up of renewables, he said.

Moidl added that the 27% EU target for RE translates into a reduction of one third to the speed of the renewables expansion in Europe laid down in the 2020 guidelines.

Not everyone was upset, however.

The BDEW, the main lobbying group representing mostly Germany’s large utilities, welcomed the 40% emission reduction target as helping energy companies with a stable regulatory framework necessary for long-term investment cycles.

Large German utilities such as RWE and E.ON are heavily invested in loss-making fossil-fired power plants, and reject measures that could burden fossils with extra costs while favouring renewables too much.

READ ALSO: Christian Kjaer's analysis of today's climate and energy package