On 17 January, MEPs adopted the European Parliament’s position on three legislative proposals under the Clean Energy Package, namely the revisions of the Renewable Energy Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive, and the new Governance Regulation. MEPs will now start negotiations with the European Council to finalise the rules.

MEPs adopted tighter targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2030. The European Commission had proposed an energy efficiency target of 30% and at least 27% renewable energy for 2030. The Parliament has increased both targets to 35% with European binding targets. The Parliament also sets stricter requirements for mandatory national action plans for climate and energy.

Commenting on the adoption of a 35% renewable energy target, Swedish MEP Fredrick Federley from Socialists and Democrats (ALDE) said the Parliament has managed to adopt a very clear position on January 17 “that both secures an ambitious road to promoting renewable energy and takes biofuels into consideration, which will serve as a good basis for negotiations with the Presidency of the European Council”.

The S&D rapporteurs on efficiency and on renewables, Czech MEP Miroslav Poche and Spanish José Blanco respectively, managed to improve the Commission’s proposal and secure support for a minimum 35% binding target to increase energy efficiency and a 35% binding target for renewables in the energy mix by 2030.

S&D vice-president for sustainability, Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, noted that the EU currently imports more than half of the energy it consumes, “and we pay 1 billion euros every day to countries outside of the EU. In the meantime, we are wasting much of our own energetic resources. Where the increase of labour productivity was the driver of economic growth over the past century, the ‘energy productivity revolution’ must become the driver of economic progress and prosperity in the 21st century. By reducing the energy we waste and increasing our use of renewable energy we can expect that in the near future we can reach a carbon-free economy. By investing in clean technologies and in the renovation of energy wasting buildings into near zero-energy buildings, we will create millions of jobs and we will keep the cash flow within the EU”.

The rapporteur for renewable energy, Blanco, said: “The European Commission was too timid in its proposal of only 27% of renewable energy by 2030, and these times require more ambition. If Europe wants to fulfil its Paris commitments, to fight climate change and to lead the energy transition, we need to do more. The Parliament was able to achieve a broad consensus for a significantly higher 2030 target raising it to 35%. We also managed to reinforce self-consumption as a right, to bring security and certainty to investors, to raise the ambition for decarbonising the transport sector, as well as the heating and cooling sectors”.

Rapporteur for energy efficiency, Poche, said the energy efficiency first approach has been adopted as one of the key dimensions of the EU’s energy union strategy. “An ambitious policy in this area will contribute to achieving both our climate and energy goals as well as to increasing our competitiveness. It is also one of the best ways to fight energy poverty in Europe. The European Parliament has substantially increased the ambition for energy savings. We have also managed to close most of the loopholes that slowed down the progress under the existing legislation, such as including the transport sector and pushing member states to replace those measures that do not deliver savings,” he said.

During a debate on the Clean Energy Package on January 15, EU Energy and Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete noted that citizens are at the center of the clean energy transition. “Consumers are becoming the real drivers of this energy transition and this is well reflected on the emphasis pit by the Parliament on the role of citizens in civil society in taking part on the process leading to the definition of climate and energy policies,” Cañete said.

“We also need to promote additional efforts to tackle energy poverty in Europe,” the Commissioner said, welcoming the fact that the European Parliament has recognised the importance of this by strengthening the efforts to be put in place by member states to reduce energy poverty.

Turning to the proposals of the Renewables Directive, Cañete said, “The aim of the regulatory framework is to ensure a continuous flow of investment into the renewables sector and to ensure its competitive development for the benefit of our citizens and our industry”.

In reaction to the results of the vote on January 17, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said: “The decision to increase the clearly inadequate EU energy targets and the long-term climate objective is a step in the right direction. With this position the European Parliament clearly challenges EU governments that have opted for far less ambitious proposals. However, these targets still fall short of what is needed to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. The EU will need to ratchet up the ambition to levels that match the seriousness of the climate change threat in the nearest future, latest by 2020”.

The vote sets high-reaching renewable energy and energy efficiency targets to 2030, accompanied by a sound governance framework to guarantee they are achieved, enabling the EU to stay in line with its climate and energy objectives and supporting the deployment of geothermal energy. “Trialogue must now align to the highest bidder, the Parliament, if the EU is ever to be World leader on renewables” commented Philippe Dumas, EGEC Secretary General.

“The text adopted by the EU Parliament proposes a strong framework that provides the necessary investment certainty and security for investors in renewable energy projects. This is a key provision to allow a robust, innovative and competitive European geothermal industry,” Dumas said.

Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO, said: “Good on the Parliament. 35% makes sense economically. Consumers benefit – wind is now the cheapest form of new power generation in Europe”.

The Parliament also voted for Member States to submit their national energy and climate action plans by June 1, 2019 and that these should show how they intend to contribute to the collective European target. The Parliament also voted for Member States to give five years’ visibility up front on their public support for renewables.

Aurélie Beauvais, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe, said the fact that MEPs have agreed on an ambitious 35% European renewable energy objective by 2030, “is excellent news for solar, as it strengthens the right to self-consume and brings forward new innovative business models such as third-party ownership, peer-to-peer exchanges and power purchase agreements”.

With the vote on January 17 the EU has sought to recognise the value of sourcing wood sustainably and preventing subsidies that distort markets and encourage the burning of wood for megawatts. “The European Parliament realises that there is more value to the circular bioeconomy than turning wood into megawatts” said Sylvain Lhôte, Director General of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI).

Greenpleace also hailed the vote noting that the European Parliament also strengthened rules supporting people producing renewable energy at home or through joining a cooperative. Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Sebastian Mang said: “The Parliament has rightly recognised that the EU must boost renewables to meet its climate commitments, but should have kept the focus on real solutions, not bad bioenergy. Unlike governments across Europe that are blocking communities from phasing out dangerous coal and nuclear in favour of renewables, the Parliament strongly backs citizens’ rights to harvest and sell their own energy from sun and wind”.