On June 16, the member states of the European Union approved a comprehensive redesign of the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) in the Committee of Permanent Representatives. The European target for renewable energies will thus be significantly increased from 32% to 45% in 2030. This means a doubling of the share of renewable energies compared to the level achieved in 2021 of almost 22%.

This is a great success for the expansion of renewables: The planned expansion of renewable energies by 2030 will be roughly doubled. For the new targets, more than 100 GW of new wind turbines and solar systems will be installed in the EU every year. For Germany, this means that the greatly increased expansion targets for wind and solar energy in 2022 will be underpinned and binding by European specifications. The higher EU targets also form the framework for more far-reaching measures and targets in the EU, such as the EU ‘s solar strategy , which envisages approximately tripling PV capacity to 600 GW by 2030.

Federal Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck: “I am very pleased that the Council today backed the March 30 agreement. The revised directive will massively accelerate the expansion of renewable energies throughout the European Union. We are raising the renewables target for 2030 from 32% to 45%. Wind and solar energy in particular are being expanded twice as fast as previously planned. The new European rules will trigger a boom in investments in renewables and make them legally binding. For us, this means: Our expansion targets for wind and solar energy, which were massively increased last year, are now underpinned by European specifications. This will make us less dependent on energy imports. For me it is very important that it is not only about goals, but also about measures. That’s why I worked to that we have now consolidated and permanently updated many of the approval accelerations for renewable energy projects that we agreed on in the 2022 energy crisis. Approvals come faster, planning is accelerated. Therefore, I am pleased that the European Union has the power to enable such a success for renewable energies.”

The agreement also enables the breakthrough of renewable energies in sectors other than the electricity sector. Binding targets for the use of renewable energies now apply in each individual country in the heating sector, transportation and industry. Switching to renewable energies in all sectors will become mandatory at the European level. In Germany alone, for example, industry will have to use hydrogen from renewable energies on a large scale in 2030, around 20-25 TWh. To ensure that the targets are also translated into measures, there are threats of infringement procedures if a country does not meet its sector targets.

In addition, approval procedures are significantly and permanently accelerated. Among other things, specific deadlines are set for this: the approval process for new renewable energy projects in certain areas must not last longer than 12 months. It is also important that hydrogen from nuclear power is still not counted towards EU targets – the RED only counts renewable energies towards the targets.

In addition, on June 16 there was an agreement on the market ramp-up, especially for e-fuels in aviation, the so-called “ReFuelEU Aviation”. The EU is introducing a market ramp-up quota for e-fuels (“RFNBOs”) in the aviation sector, from 1.2% e-fuels in 2030 to 35% e-fuels in 2050. In total, 70% of aviation fuels in 2050 be renewable. In aviation, e-fuels are particularly important because direct electrification is only possible to a limited extent.

Background to the agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive:

  • Raising the overall target

The agreement that has now been reached on an amendment to the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED III) provides for the EU 2030 target for renewable energies to increase to a total of 45% of total energy consumption (gross energy consumption). As before, 42.5% are to be provided as binding by the member states. The existing governance regulation ensures that this goal is actually achieved. For example, concrete measures are taken if there are indications that the expansion of renewables is not yet sufficient. There is also an indicative additional target of 2.5 per cent . This “top-up” is to be achieved through further voluntary contributions from the member states or through pan-European measures. The EU is thus doubling their ambition in the expansion of renewable energies. According to initial projections, the German targets are sufficient to achieve the new EU targets. Now we have to do everything we can to achieve our national expansion goals.

  • Nationally binding sector targets for 2030 ensure that renewable energies are not only used in the electricity sector.

The agreement introduces further binding, national sector targets for the use of renewable energies. If a member state does not comply with these binding sector targets, there is a risk of infringement proceedings. The share of renewable energy must grow by 0.8 percentage points each year between 2021-2025 and by 1.1 percentage points annually thereafter. In addition, there is a new, indicative building target of 49% renewable energies for the heat requirement in buildings. In the transport sector, the already binding target increases from 14% to 29%. A new binding transport target includes a combination of electricity-based renewable fuels (RFNBOs) and advanced biofuels. This sub-target is 5.5%, of which 1% is to be covered by hydrogen and other electricity-based fuels (RFNBOs).

A new mandatory target for the use of hydrogen and other electricity-based fuels (RFNBO) will be set in the industrial sector. 42% of the hydrogen consumed in the industry in 2030 must come from renewable energy sources. This corresponds to an increase of around 20 to 25 TWh. By the year 2035, the share should increase to 60%. Depending on the scenario, around 41 to 83 TWh of hydrogen from renewable energy sources are required in Germany for this purpose, since industry is using more and more hydrogen at the same time. In addition, as a new indicative target, the share of renewable energies in the total energy consumption in the industry should increase by 1.6% every year.

  • Regulations for accelerating the expansion of renewables are updated indefinitely and permanently

The regulations for accelerating the approval process for the expansion of renewable energies and grids, which were decided in the EU emergency regulation, will be laid down as far as possible. For example, the expansion of renewable energies and the grid is in the overriding public interest and time-consuming assessment steps can be dispensed with in the priority areas (no second environmental and species protection assessment at the project level if there has already been an assessment at the planning level). However, this only applies if appropriate avoidance or compensation measures have been taken, i.e. the level of nature protection remains high.

  • New impetus for cross-border projects

In addition, there is a new impetus for cross-border renewable energy projects: every Member State must tackle at least one cross-border cooperation project; so that cooperation can be strengthened. Such cooperation projects include, for example, joint offshore projects. Germany is one of the pioneers in the EU with the recently signed German-Danish offshore project “Bornholm Energy Island”.

  • Low-carbon fuels do not count towards the EE targets

A compromise was also found on the long-standing issue of crediting low-carbon combustibles and fuels ( so-called “low-carbon fuels”), such as hydrogen based on nuclear power. Low-carbon fuels do not count towards the EE targets. So there is still a clear distinction between green H2 and low carbon H2. The Federal Government had emphatically advocated this in advance. Member States that meet their national target contribution to the EU 2030 target and whose industry uses almost exclusively decarbonized fuels receive a discount on the hydrogen sub-target in industry and thus a little more flexibility.

  • Ramp up of e-fuels in air traffic

The simultaneous agreement on ReFuelEU Aviation means that e-fuels in air traffic are highly encouraged where they are urgently needed since direct electric drives are hardly possible here. This means that what has been law in Germany since 2021 now applies at the EU level: the German e-fuels quota was the world’s first obligation to use these fuels. Across the EU, at least 1.2 % of e-fuels must now be used by 2030 and 2 % by 2032. The rate will rise to 35 % by 2050. In total, at least 70 % renewable aviation fuels must be used in the target year 2050, i.e. in addition to e-fuels also biofuels from residual and waste materials.

Source: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action