On Tuesday next week, the energy committee of the European Parliament will vote on the recast of the renewables directive. There are currently 19 compromise amendments on the table. The Green group in the European Parliament is not exactly thrilled by the proposals and fears that the EU will miss this chance to become the leader in renewable energy sources, as was promised by the President of the European Commission three years ago.
There are some welcome elements on citizen energy, support schemes and retro-active changes. Further, the easing of administrative procedures by creating one-stop shops and faster permit granting procedures will facilitate access for EU citizens to produce, store and consume their own renewable energy. If they do so within their premises citizen will not be charged any additional fees, charges or taxes (such as the sun-tax in Spain previously did). Furthermore, if citizen decide to sell their excess electricity to the grid they shall be fairly remunerated. Hopefully these positive elements will remain when negotiating with the Council and the Commission.
However, the Greens are particularly worried by the lack of ambition from the socialist rapporteur Blanco-Lopez. While he is calling for a 35% overall EU target and national targets for 2030, he has failed to make them binding at national level. The Greens are also worried about the ‘factored-in 10% deviation’ - something which is supported by the conservatives, the liberals and the ECR group. This would give flexibility to the EU countries that are not fulfilling their targets under "exceptional and duly justified circumstances". This is too vague, and risks undermining the ambition of Europe as a whole.
The past directive, which contained binding targets for each EU member states, was successful precisely because of these strong clear objectives. Prices from renewable energy sources have dropped thanks to these decisions and EU politicians should really ensure that we continue on the right track so that Green energy continues to become cheaper, more abundant and much easier for people to access.
This vote on Tuesday is extremely important. The Greens are demanding that the other political groups seize the opportunity and put in place the right foundations to ensure that Europe can lead the way when it comes to green energy sources. The recent COP in Bonn showed how crucial it is for the climate negotiations that Europe steps up and drives the process forward. However, this will only be possible if it is ambitious and credible with its own targets.