The European Commission has unveiled the REPowerEU plan, aimed at rapidly reducing dependence on Russian fossil fuels and speeding up the green energy transition. The plan calls for investing an additional EUR 210 billion by 2027, increasing the share of renewables from 40% to 45% by 2030, saving energy, and diversifying supplies.
There is a double urgency to transform Europe’s energy system – ending the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and tackling the climate crisis, according to a press release from the European Commission.
The commission is proposing a set of measures that can respond to this ambition, such as energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and accelerated roll-out of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in homes, industry, and power generation.
REPowerEU: renewable energy should be recognized as an overriding public interest
Renewable energy should be recognized as an overriding public interest, while energy savings are the quickest and cheapest way to address the current energy crisis, according to the REPowerEU plan.
Speeding up the roll-out of renewables
Increasing the share of renewable sources in power generation, industry, buildings and transportation will accelerate the EU’s independence, give a boost to the green transition, and reduce prices over time, according to the document.
The commission’s proposal to increase the 2030 target for renewables from 40% to 45% involves new initiatives and strategic plans.
These include an EU Solar Strategy aimed at doubling photovoltaic capacity by 2025 and installing 600 GW by 2030. REPowerEU also proposes a rooftop solar initiative, with a phased-in legal obligation to install solar panels on new public, commercial, and residential buildings.
Renewable hydrogen would replace natural gas, coal, and oil in hard-to-decarbonize industries and transportation sectors
The commission also proposes setting a target of 10 million tons of domestic renewable hydrogen output and 10 million tons of imports by 2030, to replace natural gas, coal and oil in hard-to-decarbonize industries and transportation sectors. To accelerate hydrogen projects, additional funding of EUR 200 million is set aside for research, the commission said.
The plan also calls for doubling the rate of deployment of heat pumps, and measures to integrate geothermal and solar thermal energy in modernized district and communal heating systems.
The action plan for biomethane envisages, among other things, financial incentives to increase production to 35 billion cubic meters by 2030.
Diversifying supplies through common purchase
The new EU Energy Platform, supported by regional task forces, will enable voluntary common purchases of gas, LNG and hydrogen by pooling demand, optimizing infrastructure use, and coordinating outreach to suppliers.
The commission will consider the development of a “joint purchasing mechanism” to negotiate and contract gas purchases on behalf of participating EU member states. The platform will also enable joint purchasing of renewable hydrogen.
Legislative measures to require diversification of gas supply over time by EU member states will also be considered, according to the European Commission.
The commission also presented the EU External Energy Strategy aimed at facilitating energy diversification and building long-term partnerships with suppliers.
Achieving the goals of REPowerEU calls for an additional investment of EUR 210 billion by 2027, but cutting Russian fossil fuel imports can save the EU almost EUR 100 billion a year, according to the statement.
The commission has adopted five packages of sanctions against Russia, which cover coal imports, and has tabled proposals to phase out oil by the end of this year, reads the statement.
How the EU plans to save energy
The European Commission proposes enhancing long-term energy efficiency measures, including an increase from 9% to 13% of the binding energy efficiency target under the Fit for 55 package of European Green Deal. According to an earlier proposal, natural gas consumption in the EU is to be reduced 30% by 2030, with one-third of the savings coming from energy efficiency measures.
The commission also published a document on energy savings, detailing “short-term behavioral changes which could cut gas and oil demand by 5%,” according to the statement.
EU members are encouraged to lower VAT rates on energy-efficient heating systems and building insulation
EU member states are encouraged to start specific communication campaigns targeting households and industry and to use fiscal measures to encourage energy savings, such as reduced VAT rates on energy efficient heating systems and building insulation.
According to REPowerEU, energy savings and efficiency, fuel substitution, electrification, and an enhanced uptake of renewable hydrogen, biogas and biomethane by industry could save up to 35 billion cubic meters of natural gas by 2030.
To enhance energy savings in the transportation sector and speed up the transition towards zero-emission vehicles, the commission will consider a legislative initiative to increase the share of zero-emission vehicles in public and corporate car fleets above a certain size. It will also present a package aimed at greening freight transportation.