EU member states on a committee level have agreed to a comprehensive reform of the renewables directive (RED) that will hike the bloc’s renewable energy target and perpetuate emergency measures from last year to speed up planning and permits of renewables installations.
Nuclear-based hydrogen will continue to not count towards targets for green hydrogen, but minor concessions were made towards France and other friends of atomic power.
EU ambassadors agreed to a binding 2030 target of 42.5% renewables – measured as gross energy consumption – up from a previous goal of 32%. A ‘top-up’ of another 2.5% is supposed to be reached through voluntary contributions by member states.
The new target means that 100GW of new wind and solar capacity need to be installed in the EU each year, Germany’s government said.
“The revised directive will massively accelerate the expansion of renewable energies throughout the European Union,” German economics and climate minister Robert Habeck said.
“Wind and solar energy in particular are being expanded twice as fast as previously planned. The new European rules will trigger a boom in investments in renewables and make them legally binding.”
The agreement follows up on a provisional deal reached in March by negotiators of EU governments and the European Parliament. It still has to be approved by a meeting of EU government leaders and parliament.
The purpose is to fast-track the deployment of renewable energies in the context of the EU’s REPowerEU strategy to become independent from Russian fossil fuels, after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The deal includes an extension to accelerated planning and permitting procedures for renewable projects that had been set up as part of emergency measures last year against the energy crisis. In practice, the renewables expansion now can get the status of ‘overriding public interest’, which allows governments to wave secondary environmental and species protection assessments in so-called priority areas for green energy.
The new directive also lays down binding national renewable targets for the heating and transport sectors, as well as for industry. For the EU as a whole, a 49% renewable heating target will be introduced for buildings, while the target for transport is being hiked to 29% (instead of 14%).
As part of the transport target, electricity-based fuels and advanced biofuels combined need to make up 5.5% of all transport fuels, with 1% being reserved for hydrogen and other electricity-based fuels.
In industry, 42% of all hydrogen used is targeted to come from renewable sources by 2030, which translates into 20 to 25TWh, Germany’s climate ministry said.
That share is supposed to rise to 60% by 2035, which for the German case would require 41 to 83TWh of renewable hydrogen.
Germany stressed that so-called low-carbon fuels, for example made with the help of nuclear power, won’t count towards renewables targets, meaning France was not able to push through last-minute changes to get nuclear-based hydrogen included towards green H2 goals.
As a compromise, the directive will however grant EU members states that meet their national target contribution to the EU 2030 target, and whose industry uses almost exclusively decarbonised fuels, a discount on the H2- sub-target in industry and thus allow for a little more flexibility.
The agreement also includes a phasing in of e-fuels in aviation, introducing an e-fuels quota of 1.2% in 2030, which is slated to rise to 35% in 2050.
The deal also stipulates that all countries should present cross-border renewables projects, as Denmark and German have recently done with their agreement to turn the Danish island of Bornholm into an energy island supplying both countries with electricity and possible also green hydrogen.