EWEA cites €260bn RE target gap

Europe’s wind industry has put a strong case for a 30% binding renewables target for 2030. Setting the goal at that level would achieve much higher fossil-fuel savings; create thousands more wind jobs; and lower energy costs for industry, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

An EWEA study, Avoiding fossil fuel costs with wind energy, says replacing generation from hydrocarbons with wind would reduce energy dependency, while lowering fuel import bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

EWEA says the “unambitious” White Paper proposal for a 27% renewables target for 2030 would  — according to the European Commission’s (EC’s) impact assessment —  save €190bn ($262bn) on fossil-fuel imports from 2011 to 2030. However, a 30% target would save €450bn.

Jacopo Moccia, EWEA’s head of political affairs, says: “Europeans are shelling out over €1bn a day on importing fossil fuels from sometimes unreliable suppliers, when by investing in wind they can boost energy security and put money into a world-leading European industry that provides 250,000 jobs. This report shows the difference wind energy can make now and in the future.”

EWEA argues that oil and natural-gas prices are volatile, and — as the commission and the International Energy Agency predict — will only increase over the next few decades.

“However, wind power does not require costly fuel to produce energy, and therefore its electricity generation is not exposed to these fuel price increases and volatility,” the association adds.

EWEA recommends:

*Setting a binding EU 2030 target of 30% (rather than the proposed 27% which is non-binding on member states) to give the wind industry a stable regulatory framework.

*Ensuring that the Emissions Trading Scheme provides a high and stable carbon price to disincentivise investment in fossil-fuel generation.

*Guaranteeing public investment in R&D to increase the  competitivenesss of wind energy.

*Building the power grid up and out to ensure Europe is joined up and wind can be transmitted to all consumers.

*Setting a minimum emissions performance standard for all newbuild power plants.

In a slap in the face for the EC, the European Parliament has already voted in favour of  a 30% renewables target for 2030, backing verdicts by its energy & industry and environment committees in favour of binding targets for renewables, greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy efficiency.

The proposed targets will be debated by European leaders at summits this month and in June. Firm legislative proposals are not expected before 2015, following European parliamentary elections and a change of commissioners this year.