The EU has long championed renewable energy, with the bloc being
one of, if not the global leader in the sector. Chief among the reasons behind
this success has been the European Commission’s 2009 Renewable Energy Directive
(RED), which has laid the groundwork for the majority of EU renewable energy
policy since. By setting ambitious, legally binding targets, the RED framework
has provided a mechanism for a swift and successful uptake of renewables across
the continent and in the vast majority of all member states. Back in 2007,
10.4% of the EU’s energy mix came from renewable sources; the original RED set
a target for this figure to be 20% by 2020, and the Union is well on course to
reach this target, surpassing 17.5% in 2017.
As with all large policies that effect multiple sectors,
they need a refresh after a few years in operation to gauge what was successful
what was not, which sectors must continue to be pushed, and what can now be
left to the markets. With the RED targets not extending beyond 2020, the Commission
has spent the past few years working to update the Directive, both to better
reflect the modern renewables landscape, and to provide meaningful targets for
the next decade or beyond. The new Directive, dubbed RED II, was published in
mid-December 2018– though amendments may still be made – and expands on the
precedent set by the original Directive.
One of the most eagerly awaited outcomes of RED
II is, of course, the updated targets. According to the Directive, if the
current trajectory of EU renewables development and deployment is maintained,
the EU will have 24.3% renewables in its energy mix by 2030, which is “well
below” where the Union wishes to be. The new legally binding target is 32% by
2030. Member states are, of course, free to set themselves more ambitious
targets, but 32% is set to be the minimum. If, however, the Commission deems
that the EU is set to comfortably meet this 32% renewables target by 2030, it
reserves the right to adjust this target upwards in 2023, if it sees fit.
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