EU parliament rapporteur: 35 % renewable energy share by 2030

22.06.2017
José Blanco López wants to raise the EU’s renewable energy share to 35% by 2030 (Photo: Socialistas Españoles en el Parlamento Europeo)
José Blanco López wants to raise the EU’s renewable energy share to 35% by 2030 (Photo: Socialistas Españoles en el Parlamento Europeo)

José Blanco López, the Spanish Socialist in charge of the review of the EU renewable energy directive at the European parliament, will detail his plans for the sector at the meeting of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy of 21-22 June. Last year the European Commission made proposals to update the main policy tool for the European renewable energy industry. Now it is for the parliament to discuss it and make changes. Blanco López, who is leading this process, will present his views and seize opinions from colleagues at the meeting of the industry and energy committee.

He will propose to increase from 27% to 35% the amount of energy from renewable sources to be reached in the EU by 2030. He will ask to reintroduce national binding targets (as they are up to 2020), which governments wanted to ditch. He will say that policies to support renewables should avoid retroactive changes and that energy storage should be deployed at the lowest possible cost for consumers and taxpayers. He will also suggest to put in place incentives for SMEs and for the take-up of renewables in low-income households, as a way to address energy poverty. In this interview with Sun & Wind Energy, the parliament rapporteur explains his proposals.

Further Information:
The draft report is available for download

 SUN & WIND ENERGY: In the report that will start the discussion on the update of the directive, you make proposals that seem to redress the failures of national policies in the past years. How do you see the development of the renewable energy industry in Europe and how can this directive make a difference? 

José Blanco López: The European Union has been at the forefront of renewable energy generation and has served as an example to follow in energy policy. But since 2011, investment in renewables has decreased, while China continues to increase its investment, for instance. If we want to regain our leadership, we must set more ambitious objectives than the Commission proposal, under which at least 27% of the energy we use would be from renewables by 2030. However, this target will be reached practically without additional measures. This is the business as usual scenario.

If we want to take advantage of the opportunity to reduce the cost of renewable energy, especially wind and photovoltaics, we must set a more ambitious objective. This objective at least should not be below the current annual deployment rate of renewables. A business as usual objective will not encourage the necessary investment in renewable technologies, nor will it help the Union meet its decarbonisation targets. Therefore, my proposal establishes a target of at least 35% renewables by 2030.

And for the success of the directive, it is necessary to re-introduce binding targets at the Member State level. Binding national targets for 2020 have been key to the success of the current directive. Their deletion would have an adverse impact on the growth of renewables, reducing security and investor confidence. The impact assessment by the European Commission also concludes this.

S&WE: Wouldn’t an EU target allow more coordinated policies across Europe? 

Blanco López: Setting national targets is not incompatible with ensuring that a European energy policy is coordinated and effective. My proposal sets criteria that homogenize support schemes, for example. There are also tools to carry out joint projects for the promotion of renewables and the opening of support systems between Member States, which will help to standardize and improve the competitiveness of the instruments for the promotion of renewable energies. The binding targets at national level give a clear signal of commitment, and they offer security to investors. This safety helps to reduce the cost of financing, and, ultimately, the cost of clean energy.

S&WE: What has been the biggest mistake in the EU renewable energy policy in the past years and how to address it now?

Blanco López: The biggest mistake from my point of view has to do with the coordination of energy and climate policies. This lack of coordination has led to overlaps and inefficiencies. A further problem is the failure of instruments such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which is unable to provide a CO2 price signal that promotes a technological change towards clean energy production. This fact hurts and conditions other energy policies. For this reason, I believe that the holistic orientation of the package presented by the Commission is on the right track, and the Governance Regulation is a key piece of legislation in coordinating energy policies and aligning them with our climate commitments.

S&WE: The draft revised directive introduces measures on energy storage. What is the most pressing issue to solve to promote self-consumption?

Blanco López: The proposed new regulatory framework includes new possibilities for managing the energy of consumers. In this sense, the Commission's initiative to introduce the right to self-consumption and energy communities is a significant step forward. But to really promote the self-consumption of renewable energies, administrative obstacles must be avoided and the charges which are not cost-reflective and discourage prosumers should be prohibited. Therefore, charges on self-consumed energy, which does not pass through the networks at any time, should be banned, ensuring that self-consumers have a fair regulatory framework for their activity.

My country, Spain, is an example of why it is necessary to eliminate barriers to self-consumption. This is a country with great potential for solar energy, where this modality is hardly exploited due to the administrative obstacles and the sadly famous "sun tax". The new regulatory framework should prevent these situations.

S&WE: What do you expect to be the most contentious issues in the debate?

Blanco López: In the Commission's proposal, one of the greatest debates is about biofuels and the gap between the first generation and the advanced ones. The environment committee has exclusive competences in this area. Therefore, a greater consensus will be needed to give coherence to the entire directive. This issue is important because it influences the transport sector, which depends almost entirely on fossil fuels, and needs clear measures and targets for the use of renewable energy.

It will also be necessary to reach an agreement on the level of ambition and binding targets at a country level. The Commission made its proposal on the basis of the Council's "2030 climate & energy framework" in 2014, taking into account data from the beginning of this decade. To date, these goals have become outdated.

The report will be discussed at the European parliament industry committee on 21-22 June. It should be voted in the committee in October and by the full parliament in November, before passing to the European Council. The entire procedure to agree the final text will probably last a couple of years.

The interview was conducted by Claudia Delpero

Who has power at the European Parliament?

Rapporteurs spearhead the development of the dossiers but ultimately decisions depend on getting the support of a broad majority in parliament. Here national and political dynamics come to play. Sometimes parliamentarians with significant influence are not visible, sometimes it is the undecided who can swing a vote. So when it comes to the energy sector, who has the power at the European parliament? Vote Watch, a think tank in Brussels, has analysed participation, performance, consensus reached and interactions of parliamentarians on energy issues and has compiled the “top-ten” .

Overall, Central Europeans and Nordic MEPs are the most influential. One of the reasons why these groups are more involved than others in energy dossiers is the “higher perception of Russia as a threat,” explain Vote Watch. British MEPs also enjoy a relatively high level of influence, although this is likely to decline as Brexit approaches. French and Spanish have so far worked less systematically on energy policy.

These are the most influential MEPs on energy issues according to Vote Watch:

  1. Jerzy Buzek, Polish Christian Democrat, former president of European parliament, chair of the industry, research and energy committee and president of the European Energy Forum.
  2. Claude Turmes, Green from Luxembourg, one of the founding members of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions, as well as patron of European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
  3. Morten Helveg Petersen, Danish Liberal, also a founding members of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions and vice-chair of the industry committee.
  4. Krišjānis Kariņš, Latvian from the Unity party,  political coordinator of the centre-right European People’s Party (the largest in parliament) in the industry committee.
  5. Dario Tamburrano, Italian member of the 5 Star Movement.
  6. Ian Duncan, British Conservative, also one of the founding members of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions.
  7. Miroslav Poche, Czech Social Democrat.
  8. Werner Langen, German Christian Democrat, member of the European Energy Forum.
  9. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Polish of the European Conservatives and Reformists group.
  10. Patrizia Toia, Italian Democratic Party, vice chair of the industry committee.

 

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