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EU 2030 renewable energy target decision 'crunch time' looms

London — European renewable energy targets for 2030 face a key decision as EU energy ministers meet Monday ahead of the final meeting between council and EU Parliament Wednesday amid momentum towards compromise between their initial "at least" 27% and 35% positions.

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The EU Council, representing member states, originally proposed "at least 27%" as approved by energy ministers in December, but is now tabling two options: 30%-31% or 32%-33% each with certain conditions attached, according to sources.

The European Parliament, meanwhile, initially voted for a 35% share, but is now proposing a 34% share of renewables in EU energy by 2030, according to sources.

The Renewable Energy Directive is a key part of the EU's Clean Energy Package with Monday's energy minister council in Luxembourg the last one under the Bulgarian presidency.

"As we reach crunch time in the Clean Energy Package, there's still a lot up in the air for wind," WindEurope's Pierre Tardieu said Friday in a statement. "There's clear political momentum in this direction as new governments in Spain and Italy could put their weight behind an ambitious target," he added.

This is especially true in Spain where the new government under Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez favors more ambitious renewables targets than its predecessor, with new energy minister Teresa Ribera set to reveal the higher target Monday, according to a report by Spanish daily El Pais.

The Bulgarian presidency is keen to reach informal accords on the 2030 targets before end-June, as Austria takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency on July 1.

A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) commissioned by the EC shows that doubling the share of renewable energy in the EU to around 34% by 2030 is both cost-effective and realizable with today's technologies.

In its study publish earlier this year, IRENA concluded that the original 27% renewable target initially agreed in 2014 may be regarded as a conservative objective for the EU especially as key technologies, such as solar PV and offshore wind, have achieved "spectacular cost reductions, exceeding expectations."

With regards to the power sector, which IRENA says can still absorb large amounts of renewables, wind and solar would account for the bulk of additional capacity additions. This would result in 327 GW of wind installed capacity (97 GW above the reference case) and 272 GW of solar (87 GW above the reference case), it said.

Beyond the power sector, the report also sees a large potential for renewables in the heating and cooling sectors, which currently account for half the EU's energy demand.

In the transport sector, the EU has made limited progress over the last decade, it said adding that quick adoption of electric vehicles would be key to accelerating renewable deployment by enabling the use of renewable electricity in road transport.

EU member states combined are on track to meet the 20% renewables share target in 2020, up from 17% in 2015.

--Andreas Franke,
--Edited by Richard Rubin,