EC signs off on RED revamp, targets 29% renewable fuel contribution

A revision to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) will require the bloc to ensure 42.5% of the European Union’s entire energy consumption is met through renewables by 2030

The European Council has signed off a revision to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) that will require the bloc to ensure 42.5% of the European Union’s entire energy consumption is met through renewable energy by 2030.

In a busy morning for EU-policy makers, the European Council also confirmed it would be adopting an expansion in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandates, the Council committed EU member states to decarbonising transport, buildings, industry and both heating and cooling.

The ambitious reworking of the mainstay policy that has underpinned European energy transition since 2009 ran into controversy during discussions, as the mounting cost of energy in general – and sustainable energy in particular – brought challenges.

The final agreement represented a slight watering down of earlier proposals, with the European Union’s twin legislative chambers the Parliament and the Council cooperating to reach the 42.5% renewable contribution by 2030.

However, the slightly more ambitious 45% target that had been sought prior to discussions was agreed as a 2.5% “indicative top up.”

Spain’s minister for ecological transition, Teresa Ribera, described the adoption as “a great achievement” under the broader ´Fit for 55´package – a proposal to ensure a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030.

It is a step forward which will contribute to reaching the EU´s climate targets in a fair, cost-effective and competitive way

Teresa Ribeira, Spain’s minister for ecological transition

While the target will encompass every element of EU energy use, the transport sector is expected to shoulder the brunt of the legislative changes, with member states having to choose between two key policies governing transport emissions.

States have the option to either set a binding minimum target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity by 14.5%, or a binding share of at least 29% renewables within the final consumption of energy in the transport sector.

Alongside those options, the new rules also set out a binding sub-target of 5.5% spanning use of both advanced biofuels and largely hydrogen-based renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs).

Under industry, the legislation prompts an expectation that 42% of all hydrogen in use should be produced from RFNBOs by 2030, rising to 60% by 2035.

Domestic heating and cooling will be subject to an increased renewable target that mandates year-on-year increases of 0.8 percentage points through to 2026, and then rises to 1.1 point through to 2030, and all new buildings are expected to set a target of 49% renewable energy share.

The legislation also makes allowances for the fast-tracking of approvals around construction of renewable energy-related projects and the creation of ‘acceleration areas’.

Following formal adoption by the Council, the legislation will now be published in the EU’s official journal in the next few weeks.

From there, the legislation passes into law 20 days after publication, and member states must transpose the targets into national legislation within 18 months.

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