The Council of the EU adopted higher targets for renewables and energy efficiency within the Fit-for-55 package, ahead of the negotiations with the European Parliament on the two relevant directives. The body also endorsed the European Parliament’s decision on obligatory levels of gas storage for the winter.
Energy ministers from European Union member states gathered in a meeting of the Council of the EU and adopted the body’s negotiating positions or general approaches on two legislative proposals that tackle the energy aspects of the climate transition under the Fit-for-55 package. The agreements pave the way for negotiations with the European Parliament.
The agreement of the member states on the proposals for the Renewables Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive is aimed at decarbonizing the energy system through a massive deployment of green energy and significant efforts in energy savings, according to the statement.
The council said it would also help the EU reduce its dependence on Russia for energy in the context of the war in Ukraine. The goal is to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 from the 1990 level.
Two options for transportation sector
The body added it wants to set a binding EU-level target of 40% of energy from renewable sources in the overall energy mix by 2030. The current EU-level target is at 32%, the Council of the EU noted.
As for the sub-targets for transportation, member states can opt for a binding target of 13% greenhouse gas intensity reduction, with several pathways to be determined later, or for a binding target of at least 29% renewable energy within the final consumption of energy in the sector.
The indicative target for the annual average increase in renewable energy use in industry is set at 1.1%
The Council of the EU decided on a gradual increase in renewables targets for heating and cooling, with a binding increase of 0.8% per year at the national level until 2026 and 1.1% from 2026 until the end of the decade.
The indicative target for the annual average increase in renewable energy use in industry was set at 1.1%. The energy ministers now target at least a 49% renewable energy share in buildings in 2030.
Environmental issues with acceleration of permitting
The council backed the proposition to accelerate permitting procedures for renewable energy projects in line with the priorities of the – REPowerEU plan, launched by the European Commission in May. While proponents of solar and wind energy are praising the initiative, critics are pointing out that the EU would enable faster deployment of such technologies by loosening environmental rules.
The ministers said they want energy consumption to be cut by 36% for final energy consumption and 39% for primary energy consumption by 2030.
Separately, the council finalized the regulation on obligatory levels of gas storage. Endorsing the European Parliament’s decision, the rule is that underground tanks on a member state’s territory must be filled to at least 80% of their capacity by November 1 and to 90% by the beginning of the winter season in the following years. Overall, the EU will attempt collectively to fill 85% of the total underground gas storage capacity in 2022, the council said.