The Renewable Energy Directive establishes an overall policy for the production and promotion of energy from renewable sources in the EU. It requires the EU to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020 – to be achieved through the attainment of individual national targets. All EU countries must also ensure that at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020. Overall, the European Union is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95 % below 1990 levels by 2050 and to deliver a decarbonisation objective while ensuring security of energy supply and competitiveness at the same time.
Renewable energy sources (RES) are the key in any decarbonisation strategy. The share of renewable energy rises substantially in all scenarios to 28-31 % in 2030 and 55-75 % in the scenario in 2050. The share of renewables in transport is expected to increase to 19-20 % in 2030 and to 62-73 % in 2050. Bioenergy is expected to have an important role within the long-term goal to become a competitive low carbon economy according (Energy Roadmap 2050). The Fuel Quality Directive 2009/30/EC (FQD) sets a target of a 6 % GHG reduction for the fuels used in transport in 2020.
On 30 November 2016, the Commission published a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive to make the EU a global leader in renewable energy and ensure that the target of at least 27% renewables in the final energy consumption in the EU by 2030 is met.
National action plans and progress reports
The Directive specifies national renewable energy targets for each country, taking into account its starting point and overall potential for renewables. These targets range from a low of 10% in Malta to a high of 49% in Sweden. The overall goals according to the German National Renewable Energy Action Plan are:
Crucial measure for the development of renewable energies in Germany is the 2012 Amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act – EEG supporting energy production from renewable sources. The EEG is supplemented by the Combined Heat and Power Act. Heating sector is supported by Market Incentive Program (Marktanreizprogramm – MAP).
EU countries set out how they plan to meet these targets and the general course of their renewable energy policy in National Renewable Energy Action Plans.
Progress towards national targets is measured every two years when EU countries publish national renewable energy Progress Reports.
The Directive promotes cooperation amongst EU countries (and with countries outside the EU) to help them meet their renewable energy targets. This cooperation can take the form of:
Biofuels and bioliquids are instrumental in helping EU countries meet their 10% renewables target in transport. The Renewable Energy Directive sets out biofuels sustainability criteria for all biofuels produced or consumed in the EU to ensure that they are produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
Companies can show they comply with the sustainability criteria through national systems or so-called voluntary schemes recognised by the European Commission.