Central components of the European Union’s ‘Fit for 55’ emission reduction package are increases in the renewable energy and energy efficiency targets.
The widely anticipated Fit for 55 package, aka ‘Delivering on the European Green Deal’, is the European Union’s latest and arguably most comprehensive collection of proposed combined legislative action towards meeting its next major climate target of a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
With that, the region would then be on track for climate neutrality by 2050.
With the energy sector contributing three-quarters of the region’s emissions, it is the focus of much of the package with increased and more demanding targets than hitherto. But the package also deepens sector coupling in areas including buildings, transport and land use, which can directly or indirectly support the balance of the emissions reductions.
A lynchpin of the new proposals, which will be incorporated in a revised Renewable Energy Directive, is a 25% increase in the renewable energy mix from the current 32% up to 40% by 2030.
With the current (2019) share standing at 19.7%, and current measures projecting a one-third share by 2030, the pressure will be on for acceleration of both utility-scale and distributed renewable generation.
Coupled with this is a change from indicative to binding of a 1.1 percentage point increase annually in renewables in heating and cooling at the national level and a doubling to 2.1 percentage points in the indicative annual increase in the use of renewables and waste heat and cold in district heating and cooling.
In addition there is a new indicative target of a 1.1 percentage point annual increase in renewable energy use in industry and a new benchmark to reach at least 49% renewable share in the energy used in buildings by 2030.
These actions will of course require additional investment and some measures proposed include support and other actions to facilitate renewable power purchase agreements, accelerated permitting for renewables and promotion of cross-border cooperation.
“The steady renewables evolution of recent years and decades must become a revolution,” vowed EU Commissioner for energy Kadri Simson, in presenting these new targets.
“By pushing our 2030 renewables target to 40%, we are not only promoting cleaner and cheaper energy production, we are also boosting an economic sector with remarkable potential to create jobs, growth and trade.”
A second key element is a 9% increase in energy efficiency savings from the current 32.5% to 36-39% for final and primary energy consumption by 2030. Similarly this signals the need for an acceleration in action with the current (2019) level standing at just half at 17.0-17.4% and current actions projected to reach just short of 30% by 2030.
Accompanying targets for all member states include an increased annual energy savings obligation of 1.5%, 1.7% energy savings per year in the public sector and renovation of at least 3% of the total floor area of all public buildings annually.
According to the text of the revised Energy Efficiency Directive from a budgetary perspective the amendments are expected to result only in moderate administrative costs for public authorities.
Some support at least for building renovations will be available to citizens most affected or at risk of energy poverty. A new Social Climate Fund will provide €72.2 billion (US$85.5 billion) over seven years in funding for renovation of buildings as well as for access to zero and low emission mobility and income support.
Complementing these proposals are measures in emissions trading, with a strengthening of the EU Emissions Trading System with the creation of separate emission trading systems for buildings and transport fuels, and in transport.
Proposed measures for transport include increased emissions reductions of 55% from cars and 50% from vans by 2030 – previously 37.5% and 31% respectively – and the sale of only zero emission cars and vans by 2035.
In order to support emissions reduction in transport, the amount of renewable fuels and renewable electricity supplied to the sector must lead to a reduction of at least 13% by 2030. In addition, a credit mechanism will be established to allow fuel suppliers to exchange credits for supplying renewable energy to the sector.
EVs along with other distributed storage assets such as home storage have the potential to offer considerable flexibility to the grid. Regulatory provisions should be designed not to hamper this potential. Non-public recharging points must support smart charging functionalities and where appropriate bidirectional charging.
Further to support renewable integration, real -time network and battery information must be available to market participants and others.
The ‘Fit for 55’ package shows that Europe is tackling the climate crisis with urgency and optimism, said Ignacio Galán, Chairman and CEO of Iberdrola, in an early response.
“Increasing the renewables target to 40% by 2030 is ambitious but achievable. The energy system can integrate renewables at this scale, as has been proven time and again in many countries in Europe already. It will be important for every country to look at their processes for planning and permitting to ensure projects can be delivered in the necessary timescales.
“Hear! Hear!” was the response from the E.DSO organisation.
“This package provides the EU with a unique opportunity to put the right policies in place and aligning these with the energy system Integration,” said chair Christian Buchel.
“We consider the investment needs in distribution grids to be highly important. These are asking the DSOs an effort calculated up to €400 billion until 2030. This could only be achieved via a supportive and comprehensive regulatory framework to accelerate cost effective, clean and renewable based electrification across sectors.”
Jean-Bernard Lévy, President of Eurelectric and CEO of EDF Group, said: “If we want to deliver the volumes of electricity needed to decarbonise our economy while ensuring resilience and security of supply we will need massive investments in a diversity of decarbonised technologies, renewables, storage, and digital solutions. But we also need a supportive and comprehensive regulatory framework to accelerate cost effective electrification across sectors”
The proposals now go up for debate in the European Parliament and are likely to take two years or more to be finalised into law. By then 2030 will be that much closer and the targets that much more demanding. Thus, early action is recommended by all parties.