At the last meeting before the summer break, the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) voted on the Directives on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. The Committee calls for significantly accelerate reducing energy consumption by 2030.
On 13 July 2022, MEPs of the EU Parliament’s ITRE Committee voted in favour of increasing the share of renewable energies in the EU within the scope of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) from currently 40% to 45% by 2030. In the transport sector, the use of renewable energies during the same period shall lead to a reduction of greenhouse emissions by 16%. This shall be achieved by using bigger shares of advanced biofuels and a more ambitious quota for renewable fuels from non-biological sources, such as hydrogen. However, AK is sceptical of these demands as generating renewable fuels is energy intensive; it would be far more efficient to directly use the electricity required for its production, for example by utilizing electric vehicles.
The new target for 2030 is a significant increase compared to the 40-percent target, which the EU Commission had stipulated a year earlier within the scope of the “Fit for 55” Package. In view of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, MEPs across all political groups have backed the proposal to increase this target to 45%. The revised target is also in accordance with the plans of the EU Commission, which were submitted on 18 May 2022; they aim at ceasing all imports of Russian fossil fuels “well before” 2030 and to accelerate the energy transition as a reaction to the Russian invasion.
Innovation quota and key factor hydrogen
One of the new ideas in the Parliament Report is to double the number of mandatory joint projects for the production of renewable energy to two per country. EU Member States with the highest annual electricity consumption shall have to establish three projects by 2030.
Right to the end, there were differences in respect of hydrogen as the political parties are split regarding the criteria for the definition of “green” hydrogen. In the end, MEPs agreed to delete all terms with regard to low-carbon hydrogen from the Renewable Energy Directive, which is either produced by nuclear energy or from natural gas. Instead, low-carbon hydrogen shall be dealt with within the scope of the Gas- und Hydrogen Package, which the EU Commission submitted in December 2021. Regarding the use of hydrogen, AK points out that in view of the also in future low quantity of renewable hydrogen – in comparison to its possible applications, it has to be used where no other alternatives exist. This is the case in industry, but not with regard to passenger cars or heating.
More ambitious targets to save energy
In a separate vote by the ITRE Committee on the Energy Efficiency Directive, MEPs also supported higher targets both with regard to primary and final energy consumption in the EU. According to the reached agreement, EU Member States shall jointly ensure that energy consumption – compared to the prognoses of the reference scenario 2007 for 2030 – will be reduced by at least 40% regarding the final energy consumption and by 42.5% in respect of primary energy consumption by 2030. The current EU target is to reduce energy consumption by 32.5 % compared to 2007. It has also been planned for EU Member States to establish national contributions to reach these targets. Hence, targets shall be reached by measures in different sectors (e.g. public administration, buildings, companies, datacentres) at local, regional, national and European level. In its Position Papier on both draft Directives of the EU Commission, AK has already requested binding national targets.
After MEPs have adopted the Reports on RED with 54 to 14 votes and 6 abstentions and on EED with 50 to 7 votes and 13 abstentions, both dossiers will be put to the vote at the plenary session of the EU Parliament from 12 to 15 September 2022 in Strasbourg so that the challenging trilogue negotiations with Council and EU Commission can begin.