The European Commission has published a Clean Energy Package, made up of new proposals designed to increase energy efficiency, boost renewable energy usage, reform the European energy market, introduce new governance measures for the Energy Union and support clean energy innovation.
The Global Leader in Renewable Energy
In 2014, the European Council committed the European Union to cutting carbon emissions by 40%, as well as achieving a 27% share for renewable energy, and improving energy efficiency by 27% by 2030. The push towards cleaner and securer energy sources was also embraced by the Juncker Commission, which made the Energy Union one of its ten priorities, which also supported other priorities such as Jobs and Growth, and a Deeper Internal Market.
The explicit aim of the European Union throughout these actions has been to remain the global leader in renewable energies, with clean energy jobs boosting employment and economic development, to provide long-term economic prospects. With the new package, the Commission aims to move towards a consumer-focused transition, and away from centralised, large scale developments.
Clean Energy for All Europeans
The ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package is made up of nine legislative proposals and seven non-legislative documents, covering energy efficiency, renewable energy, electricity market redesign, governance rules for the Energy Union, energy security and eco-design. Additionally, the Commission outlines how it wishes to support innovation in the clean energy sector, and how to accelerate building renovation.
The measures outlined look at both the uptake of existing technology, as well as how to support innovation to advance new technologies. The initiatives intend to encourage businesses to invest in new technologies, whilst also setting the framework to allow citizens to benefit from decentralised energy production.
The Commission aims to put consumers at the centre of the new energy system, making it easier for them to become energy producers and sell excess energy into the market, “without being subject to disproportionate procedures and charges that are not cost-reflective”. The proposals come in response to new technologies for decentralised production, as well as expected development and uptake of energy storage and smart metering.
What’s in the Package?
- In the proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive, the Commission proposes that member states should further improve their frameworks for the transition to renewable electricity, and gives principles on designing support schemes and simplifying administrative barriers. The Commission also provides Member States with options for advancing renewable heating & cooling and proposes an obligation on transport fuel suppliers to introduce more low-carbon fuels. For consumers, the directive aims to enable individuals to self-consume their generated energy, recognises energy communities, and aims to improve information provision to empower individuals.
- An accompanying Communication on accelerating Clean Energy Innovation sets out considerations for how policy frameworks, financial instruments, and European co-operation can support innovation. It recognises that energy market, competition and regulatory frameworks play a key role in supporting innovation, by setting new technologies on an even footing with existing ones. The Communication discusses how financial instruments can lower risks for investors in new technologies, and how research and innovation funding can be better targeted.
- The proposed revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive recognises that energy efficiency should be Europe’s ‘first fuel’, being the cheapest and cleanest form of energy. It proposes a binding 30% energy efficiency improvement by 2030 (up from the non-binding 27% agreed by EU leaders in 2014). The proposal further simplifies how energy savings are to calculated, and includes new, alternative measures for saving energy.
- Complimenting this, the revision of the Energy Efficiency of Buildings Directive aims to speed up building renovation, from the current annual 0.4-1.2% rate. The proposal requires member states to produce strategies on how to decarbonise their housing stock by 2050, with interim goals by 2030. The Commission also hopes that the Directive could boost electric vehicle uptake by requiring the installation of recharging points at buildings with more than ten parking spaces.
- The Commission is also looking to shake up the design of the European energy market, altering the rules on market participation, in order to embrace new technologies and market participants. The proposed changes aim to reduce payments to polluting power plants for capacity mechanisms, allow consumers to sell electricity into the market, and make markets more flexible for integration of renewables.
- Additionally, the Commission also published its long-delayed Ecodesign Working Plan, proposing new requirements for increasing the energy efficiency of products. The plan targets seven items with the highest energy-saving potential, but the Commission has shied away from introducing new Ecodesign requirements for repairability, recyclability and durability.
The proposals from the Commission will now pass to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament for consideration. Discussions by the legislature will begin early in 2017. For more information on the Package, see the information page at European Commission DG Energy.