Strong EU renewable energy law demanded

NGOs push for reintroduction of stalled directive, call for stronger national quotas

A coalition of European environmental groups today called for a stalled EU directive on renewable energy to be resurrected and agreed in strengthened form. Unless this happened, the coalition warned, Europe would fail to meet its Kyoto targets and renewables would not thrive in an increasingly liberalised electricity market.

Earlier this year the European Commission shelved plans to publish a directive on renewable energy after a row over proposed EU rules limiting the types of support schemes member states could operate (ENDS Daily 9 February). This month, the Commission came forward with a working paper instead, which simply canvasses "options" for boosting renewable energy and setting rules for support schemes (ENDS Daily 14 April).

For European environmental groups and renewable energy industries, the loss of the directive is unacceptable. Today they wrote to EU energy ministers, who are due to discuss the Commission's working paper in Brussels next week, and called for its reintroduction without limiting renewables support schemes and with stronger binding targets for national renewable energy penetration.

Stressing the importance of having a directive with legally binding targets, Greenpeace - one of the signatory groups - said that Europe's Kyoto commitments would otherwise be "as good as dead". Europe would also "have to kiss goodbye to [its] market lead in renewable technology," Karl Mallon of Greenpeace told ENDS Daily.

In the now defunct draft directive, the Commission's energy directorate had proposed requiring all EU member states to provide a minimum 5% share of energy from renewable sources by 2005 and for countries to increase the share annually by three percentage points irrespective of the level already achieved.

The coalition today called for these targets to be increased to an 8% minimum share by 2005, rising to 16% by 2010, and thereafter for all countries to increase the share of renewables by two percentage points annually. It also demanded a requirement that all countries should increase the share of renewables by four percentage points by 2005, and by eight percentage points by 2010.

Freedom for EU countries to implement whatever renewables support schemes they choose was also defended by the coalition. The Commission's energy directorate was proposing to require a phase-out of "non-competitive" systems, such as Germany's fixed tariffs for renewable electricity in favour of more competition-based ones, such as the UK's percentage quota scheme. The group accepted that a single EU system for supporting renewables was a desirable goal in principle, but argued that market liberalisation should not jeopardise systems that had proved successful in boosting renewable energy.

Follow Up:
WWF, tel: + 32 2 743 8806. References: Text of the NGO plan.

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