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Renewable Energy Road Map

The Renewable Energy Road Map assesses the share of renewable energy in the energy mix and the progress made in this area. It also includes the target of producing 20% of total EU energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020, as well as measures for promoting renewable energy sources in the electricity, biofuels and heating and cooling sectors.

ACT

Commission Communication of 10 January 2007: "Renewable Energy Road Map. Renewable energies in the 21st century: building a more sustainable future" [COM(2006) 848 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The Road Map sets out the Commission's long-term strategy for renewable energy in the European Union (EU). The aim of this strategy is to enable the EU to meet the twin objectives of increasing security of energy supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

An assessment of the share of renewable energy in the energy mix and the progress made in the last 10 years shows that more and better use could be made of renewables.

In the Road Map, the Commission proposes setting a mandatory target of 20% for renewable energy's share of energy consumption in the EU by 2020 and a mandatory minimum target of 10% for biofuels. It also proposes creating a new legislative framework to enhance the promotion and use of renewable energy.

Current contribution of renewable energy

In 2005, the breakdown of renewable energy produced in the EU by source was as follows: 66.1% from biomass, 22.2% from hydropower, 5.5% from wind power, 5.5% from geothermal energy and 0.7% from solar power (thermal and photovoltaic).

In 1997, the EU set itself the target of generating 12% of gross domestic energy consumption from renewable sources by 2010. Despite the considerable progress that has been made, the Commission is of the opinion that this target will not be met.

The difficulties encountered in meeting this target can partly be explained by:

  • the high cost of renewable energy owing to the investment required and the fact that externalities (the "external" cost of the different energy sources, particularly their long-term impact on health or the environment) have not been taken into account, which gives fossil fuels an artificial advantage;
  • administrative problems resulting from installation procedures and the decentralised nature of most renewable energy applications;
  • the opaque and/or discriminatory rules governing grid access;
  • inadequate information for suppliers, customers and installers;
  • the fact that the 12% target is expressed as a percentage of primary energy, which puts wind power at a disadvantage (a sector that has experienced considerable growth during the period in question).

Furthermore, the progress made by the Member States has been patchy and highly uneven. The absence of a legally binding target and the gaps in the Community's legal framework for renewable energy have meant that real progress has only been possible in the few Member States whose determination has outweighed their changing political priorities.

In accordance with Directive 2001/77/EC, all Member States have adopted national targets for the proportion of electricity consumption from renewable energy sources. If all Member States meet their national targets, 21% of total electricity consumption in the EU will be produced from renewable energy sources by 2010. Although some Member States are on track to meet their target, it seems that the majority of counties are behind schedule, and the EU will only manage to produce 19% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Additional efforts are therefore required.

In 2005, the breakdown of renewable energy sources for electricity production in the EU was as follows: 66.1% from hydropower, 16.3% from wind power, 15.8% from biomass, 1.2% from geothermal energy and 0.3% from solar power (thermal and photovoltaic).

The 5.75% target for the contribution of biofuels to total fuel consumption by 2010, set on the basis of Directive 2003/30/EC, will probably not be met either unless current policies are strengthened. Only two Member States met the intermediate target of 2% for the contribution of biofuels by 2005. In 2005, biodiesel accounted for 81.5% of total biofuel production in the EU, while bioethanol accounted for 18.5%.

The Commission is of the opinion that the heating and cooling sector, which accounts for approximately 50% of final energy consumption, is not doing enough to exploit the potential of renewable energy sources, which contributed less than 10% of the energy used for heating or cooling in 2005. The EU has not so far adopted any legislation with the direct aim of promoting heating or cooling from renewable sources.

The percentage of renewable energy used in this sector has risen only slowly. Biomass is the principal renewable energy source used for heating. The extent to which other energy sources have been developed varies considerably depending on the type of source and the country in question (for example: geothermal heat in Sweden and Hungary and solar thermal energy in Germany and Greece, among others).

Objectives for the future

The Road Map sets an overall mandatory target of 20% for the proportion of renewable energy figuring in gross domestic consumption by 2020. Setting targets at European level will make it possible to ensure that national policies on this issue remain relatively stable.

The Commission wishes to set a minimum target of 10% for biofuels for 2020. This target will be accompanied by an amendment to Directive 98/70/EC on fuel quality, in order to include the contribution made by biofuels.

The Road Map provides for each Member State to adopt mandatory targets and action plans in line with its potential. These action plans must include specific measures and objectives for the three following sectors: electricity, biofuels and heating and cooling. This flexible approach will leave Member States enough room for manoeuvre. Suitable legislation will be proposed in 2007.

Policies and measures

The Commission will propose measures to improve the Internal Market and remove the barriers to developing renewable energy in the electricity sector and the heating and cooling sector by, for example, reducing the administrative burden, improving transparency and provision of information, and adjusting and increasing the number of installations and interconnection systems.

The Commission will also propose measures to support, encourage and promote renewable energy sources, including an incentive/support system for biofuels and the use of public procurement, particularly in the transport sector.

The Commission will continue to cooperate closely with those involved in the renewable energy sector (grid authorities, European electricity regulators and the renewable energy industry) to enable better integration of renewable energy sources into the power grid.

The Commission will encourage optimal use of the existing financial instruments, such as the Structural and Cohesion Funds, as well as instruments that focus on supporting research and disseminating technology, such as the next Strategic Energy Technology Plan, the Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development or the " Intelligent Energy for Europe " Programme.

The Commission will also ensure the continued exchange of best practices and the inclusion of the external costs of fossil fuels in their price (in particular through energy taxes).

Member States and local and regional authorities are encouraged to make maximum use of the instruments available to them and promote the development of renewable energy sources, e.g. through administrative simplification and improved planning.

Cost-benefit analysis

Renewable energy sources produce negligible or zero greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing renewable energy's share of the total produced by all available fuels will therefore significantly reduce the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission estimates that the 20% target will make it possible to cut CO2 emissions by 600-900 million tonnes per year, generating savings of between 150 billion and 200 billion, if the price of CO2 rises to 25/tonne.

Moreover, developing alternative energy sources to fossil fuels will help guarantee security of energy supply in the EU and reduce the energy bill resulting from increases in the price of fossil fuels. Consequently, if the EU meets its 20% target in 2020, it is estimated that savings will be made of over 250 million TOE (tonnes of oil equivalent) per year by 2020, of which 200 million TOE would otherwise be imported.

Furthermore, developing the technologies used in the renewable energy sector will create new business opportunities, particularly for exporting these technologies. It is also expected to have a positive impact on employment and GDP growth.

The cost of renewable energy has been falling steadily for the last 20 years, but remains higher than that of conventional energy sources. This is above all because the external costs of fossil fuels have not been internalised. The average additional cost of meeting the 20% target is estimated at between 10 billion and 18 billion per year, depending on energy prices and the research efforts made.

Background

This Road Map is an integral part of the review of European energy policy which took place in early 2007 ("Energy Package"). It responds to the request made by the European Council in March 2006 for further promotion of renewable energy sources in the long term.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Communication of 26 May 2004 on the share of renewable energy in the EU. Commission Report in accordance with Article 3 of Directive 2001/77/EC - evaluation of the effect of legislative instruments and other Community policies on the development of the contribution of renewable energy sources in the EU and proposals for concrete actions [COM(2004) 366 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Commission Communication of 26 November 1997 on energy for the future: renewable sources of energy - White Paper for a Community strategy and action plan [COM(97) 599 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Commission Green Paper of 20 November 1996 on renewable sources of energy [COM(96) 576 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

 
Last updated: 09.02.2007
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