Renewable Energy Policy in the EU
On 5th June 2009, the Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (2009/28/EC, RES Directive) was published in the Official Journal of the EU and hence became law, entering into force on 25th June 2009. The directive will have to be transposed into national law by December 2010. This directive was published as part of the Climate-Energy Legislative Package adopted by the Council on 6th April 2009.
The Climate and Energy package includes the following acts:
- Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 - reduction of CO2 emissions from Light Duty Vehicles
- Directive 2009/28/EC – Renewable Energy Sources
- Directive 2009/29/EC – Emission Trading Scheme
- Directive 2009/30/EC – Fuel Quality Directiv
- Directive 2009/31/EC – Carbon Capture and Storage
- Decision No 406/2009/EC – « effort sharing »
The Climate & Energy Package was intended as a demonstration of the EU’s commitment to addressing the growing challenges of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, which were vigorously slapped back on the table of world talks at UN Summits in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and Johannesburg in 2002 (see the section on Global Policies).
EREC first launched the idea of a binding RES target of 20% by 2020 for the EU in 2004. The idea was then taken over by the European Commission in January 2007 in its Communication on a Renewable Energy Road Map (COM(2006) 848 final). Two months later, European Heads of State and Heads of Government gave their green light to this binding target at the March 2007 Summit.
On 23rd January 2008, the European Commission published its Proposal for a Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable energy (COM(2008) 19 final) and in December of the same year, an agreement was reached on the RES Directive between the European Parliament, the French Presidency on behalf of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.
The RES Directive not only sets the objective of reaching 20% of the EU’s energy consumption through renewable energy sources by 2020, it also incorporates, for the first time, all three sectors (electricity, heating and cooling, transport) – see section on Sectoral Policies.
But why is renewable energy so important in the race to sustainable development and how will the EU reach its targets?
Europe's demand for energy is increasing in an environment of high and unstable energy prices. Greenhouse gas emissions are rising. Natural reserves of fossil fuels such as oil and gas are concentrated in just a few supplier countries around the world. Climate Change along with an increasing dependency on energy imports are only a few of the risks the European economy is facing today. As energy is the fuel of Europe´s economic engine, by switching from fossil fuel, greenhouse gas intensive sources of energy to renewable sources of energy, Europe is able to fully grasp its sustainable potential - in economic, ecologic and social terms.
The following section, EU Policies, presents several areas in which Europe is actively creating a favourable framework for RES to develop.