Europe ups renewables target to 32% by 2030

An overnight agreement led to an initial 27% target for 2030 being increased to 32% and recommendations for member states to ‘avoid’ retroactive changes.

European policy makers have reached an agreement for the European Union’s latest renewable energy directive, putting renewables on track to account for 32 percent of the mix by 2030.

The agreement – reached yesterday between the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council – raises the 20 percent by 2020 target and includes a clause allowing for the target to be increased by 2023. It also raised the initial 2030 directive outlined by the Commission of 27 percent by 2030, following pressure from countries including Spain, Italy and France.

Included in the updated directive is the recommendation that retroactive policy changes, a provision missing from the 2020 directive and which allowed countries, most prominently Spain and Italy, to revoke previously awarded subsidies, be avoided.

While the initial 2030 proposals stated “renewables support policies should be stable and avoid frequent changes”, the amended and approved directive specified that “renewables support policies should be predictable, stable and avoid frequent or retroactive changes”.

It also calls on member states to announce any change in support schemes “in due time” and after consulting stakeholders. “In any case, member states should prevent the revision of any support granted to renewable energy projects from having a negative impact on their economic viability,” the directive states.

“This deal is a hard-won victory in our efforts to unlock the true potential of Europe’s clean energy transition,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, Europe’s commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. “This new ambition will help us meet our Paris Agreement goals and will translate into more jobs, lower energy bills for consumers and less energy imports.”

Official figures released earlier this year showed the share of renewable energy in the EU has reached 17 percent, although the statistics from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, are based on 2016 data. Each member state has set its own target based on different starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance.

The new renewable energy directive could provide a much-needed boost to the European industry, with investment dipping in recent years following the rollback of subsidies in countries such as the UK and Germany and a power price fall in the Nordics.

The text of the directive will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council, which is expected in the coming months, the Commission said in a statement.

For further clean energy insight, have a read of our latest Energy Transition report here.