Agreement reached: EU aims for higher renewable energy targets

agreement reached
EU aims for higher targets for renewable energy

The EU is tightening its energy targets. By 2030, 42.5 percent of the energy consumed in the international community should come from renewable sources. In addition to a lot of encouragement for the regulation, there is also criticism – above all because wood is still considered a renewable energy source.

By 2030, 42.5 percent of the energy consumed in the EU must come from renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydropower. The voluntary target is to reach 45 percent, which should help the EU achieve its climate goals, according to communications from EU states and the European Parliament. Previously, negotiators of the institutions had agreed on a corresponding compromise, which also grants nuclear power a certain role.

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck said: “Today’s resolutions are a huge success for the European Union.” Currently, the specified share of renewable energies by 2030 is only 32 percent. According to the Federal Environment Agency, the share of renewable energies in Germany last year was 20.4 percent.

In view of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the EU Commission proposed last year to increase the share of renewable energies to 45 percent by 2030. Parliament also entered the negotiations with this demand. The EU states wanted a target of 40 percent.

The agreement also defined specific targets for certain areas such as industry, transport and buildings. Above all, the industrial specifications had been a long struggle between the proponents and opponents of nuclear power. Countries like France are always vehemently committed to this technology, while it is viewed critically by countries like Germany and Austria.

The compromise now stipulates that 42 percent of the hydrogen used by industry must come from renewable sources by 2030 and 60 percent by 2035. However, countries that consume particularly small amounts of hydrogen from fossil fuels such as oil and gas and meet renewables deployment targets can replace 20 percent of their share of renewable hydrogen with hydrogen from other energy sources – including nuclear power.

“It is indeed a success that France was not able to assert itself in declaring nuclear power as renewable. But it is a scandal that nuclear power plays a role at all,” said Green MP Michael Bloss. Hydrogen is to be used in industry to replace fossil gas, among other things. Hydrogen is produced by the electrolysis of water. If electricity from renewable energies is used, the hydrogen is considered green and CO2-free.

The problem with the biomass

There is also clear criticism that energy from biomass such as wood should continue to be considered renewable. “The new directive is a catastrophic decision for the forest,” said Green MP and forest scientist Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg. The crazy practice of industrially burning wood for electricity is promoted. This is seen as problematic, among other things, because climate-damaging CO2 stored in the trees is released instead of remaining stored in the plants.

The compromise also stipulates that approval procedures for renewable energies should be accelerated. The approval period for plants for renewable energies should be a maximum of 18 months if the plants are to be built in areas intended for this purpose. Outside these areas, the process should not take longer than 27 months. The directive is part of the EU Commission’s “Fit for 55” climate package. It aims to reduce climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 and should thus contribute to the overall goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050.

Before the new rules can come into force, Parliament and EU countries still have to accept them. This is usually a matter of form. The EU states are responsible for implementing the goals themselves.

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