European lawmakers voted on Wednesday for the share of renewable energy in the bloc's energy mix to be raised to 45% by 2030. Voting took place at the European Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg.
Following Ursula von der Leyen's State of the Union address which this morning outlined measures to tackle the energy crisis, MEPs voted a number of resolutions that aim to boost the EU's green credentials. Among them is the intention to raise its energy savings target to 40% of final energy consumption. Laws to combat climate change and boost energy security were also passed.
"True independence can only be secured by expanding renewable energy," said Markus Pieper (EPP, DE), the Parliament's lead negotiator of the renewable energy directive.
"We strongly support the increased 2030 target of 45%. Greater cross-border cooperation is needed to expand renewable energy." Pieper added that the EU must multiply investments into alternative fuels such as hydrogen and sustainable biomass. The text was adopted with a sizeable majority.
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The Renewable Energy Directive has been amended several times to bring it in line with more ambitious climate targets. With Russia's invasion of Ukraine putting massive constraints on the EU's supply of natural gas, MEPs have now formally backed the Commission's proposal to raise the renewable energy target to 45%.
Despite the overwhelming vote in favour of the proposal, it is likely to disappoint the Greens who argue that the bill is not ambitious enough and had called to increase the use of renewable energy to 56% by 2030.
“This is a welcome step but as Greens/EFA we would have liked 56%, which would take us closer to a fully renewable economy by 2040," said Greens Finnish negotiator Ville Niinistö to Euractive in July.
Response to the energy crisis
The vote comes after Ursula von der Leyen's State of the Union address on Wednesday in which she announced proposals to save energy as the EU faces soaring energy costs with winter looming. The war in Ukraine has accelerated the green transition as Europe seeks to free itself from unreliable partners.
The bill defines targets for many sectors such as transport, buildings, and district heating. In the transport sector, renewable energy should cut greenhouse gas emissions by 16%, notably by relying on advanced biofuels and hydrogen. The industrial sector is expected to boost renewables by 1.9% per year, and district heating networks by 2.3%.
Every Member State will be required to create two cross-border projects to develop their green electricity capacity. Member states with annual electricity consumption of more than 100 TWh will have to develop a third one by 2030.
MEPs also adopted amendments to move away from using primary wood as a renewable energy source. This would end subsidies for burning wood.
In a separate vote on Wednesday, MEPs supported revising the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) – the law that sets energy-saving targets for the EU.
MEPs raised the EU's target to reduce its primary energy consumption so that Member States must together ensure that their final energy consumption is cut by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 2007 use.
In real terms, this is equivalent to saving 740 million tonnes of oil. Member states will be required to set binding national contributions to achieve this target.