The European Parliament has this week endorsed a significant expansion of renewable energy deployment, aligning with the EU's Green Deal and REPowerEU initiatives. The revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED) will elevate the share of renewables in the EU's final energy consumption to 42.5% by the year 2030, with an ultimate goal of reaching 45%.
The legislation, which has been previously agreed upon by both the European Parliament and the Council, introduces expedited procedures for granting permits to construct new renewable energy facilities. This includes solar panels, wind turbines, and the adaptation of existing installations. National authorities are expected to process approvals within 12 months for projects located in designated "renewables go-to areas" and within 24 months elsewhere.
In the transport sector, the deployment of renewables aims to achieve a substantial 14.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This will be accomplished through a higher utilization of advanced biofuels and an increased quota for renewable fuels of non-biological origin, such as hydrogen.
MEPs have also secured key provisions in the legislation, including an indicative target for innovative renewable energy technologies, accounting for at least 5% of newly installed capacity. Additionally, a binding framework for cross-border energy projects has been established. Stricter criteria for the use of biomass have been incorporated to ensure that EU subsidies do not support unsustainable practices, emphasizing the importance of sustainable biomass harvesting to preserve soil quality and biodiversity.
Markus Pieper, the lead MEP from the European People's Party (EPP) in Germany, expressed his satisfaction with the directive, stating, "In our pursuit of greater energy independence and CO2 reduction, we have raised our renewable energy targets. This directive is evidence that Brussels can be unbureaucratic and pragmatic. We have designated renewables as an overriding public interest, streamlining their approval process. Our focus encompasses wind power, photovoltaics, hydropower, geothermal energy, and tidal currents. Biomass from wood will remain classified as renewable energy. Under the principle of 'Positive silence,' investments will be deemed approved in the absence of administrative feedback. We now urgently need an EU electricity market design and an immediate shift to hydrogen for a greener transition."
The legislative proposal received overwhelming support in the European Parliament, with 470 votes in favor, 120 against, and 40 abstentions. The next step involves formal endorsement by the Council to become law.
The revision of the Renewable Energy Directive is a key component of the 'Fit for 55' package, which seeks to align climate and energy legislation with the EU's ambitious objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 55% by 2030 (REDIII). The targets were further raised under the REpowerEU package, which aims to reduce European dependence on fossil fuel imports, particularly from Russia, in response to its actions in Ukraine. The legislation also includes measures to expedite the approval process for renewable energy deployment.
This initiative reflects the European Parliament's response to citizens' expectations voiced during the Conference on the Future of Europe. It aligns with proposals to accelerate the EU's transition to green energy, increase investments in renewables, enhance energy efficiency, and improve the quality and interconnectivity of electrical infrastructure.