by Kira Taylor
Eleven EU member states have called on the European Commission to help boost renewables, cut red tape, and facilitate the necessary legislation to get projects off the ground in a joint communication sent last week, ahead of the European Wind Power Package, due Tuesday (24 October).
In the letter, seen by Euractiv on Sunday (22 October) the countries—Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Portugal – highlight the benefit of renewables but argue they need more support.
“We are facing multiple crises. The past eight years were the warmest on record globally, and the number of heatwaves and natural disasters (wildfires, droughts, floods, etc.) is increasing every year,” the joint communication from the “Friends of Renewables group” reads.
“The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine also shows Europe’s vulnerability due to its dependency on non-renewable energy and critical raw material imports,” it continues, adding this is a security risk and fuels inflation.
The eleven countries argue that renewable energy will play a crucial role in changing this situation.
Cutting red tape for renewables
The joint communication comes ahead of the European Commission publishing a new proposal to pave the way for more wind power and follows the approval of the new EU renewable energy law. But more than this is needed, the countries argue.
“The current EU projects in the field of renewable energies are going in the right direction. To maintain the EU’s pioneering role in climate action, we need more supportive measures to accelerate the roll-out of renewable energies in Europe,” said Austrian climate minister Leonore Gewessler.
The eleven countries’ call includes “renewables without borders”, enabled by better interconnection between member states. Europe needs to get quicker at coordinating, planning and building the necessary infrastructure for sharing electricity.
They argue that renewable hydrogen and renewable energy must also be supported by a “well-functioning” internal market focused on creating a level-playing field within the EU that can stand up to global competition.
The eleven countries also call for the quick introduction of new laws like the one supporting renewable energy. The European Commission is already looking at how to do this, with measures expected in the European Wind Power Package tomorrow.
The countries also want the EU executive to look further ahead, including with its impact assessment for the EU’s 2040 climate target. They argue this should also indicate a target for the energy sector to create investment certainty.
According to the countries, more must be done to cut through the red tape blocking renewables. They “call on the Commission to continue working on how to speed up permitting procedures, including further examination and removals of barriers and obstacles in relevant EU legislation”. Work on this could also come in the wind package.
Securing energy and global targets
Alongside this, the EU needs to ensure it does not replace its reliance on Russian gas with other dependencies, the eleven countries warn. While the joint communication does not explicitly mention China, it is a dominating force in producing materials needed for renewable energy production.
To avoid future dependencies, the EU needs “a mixture of targeted policy aimed at strengthening the EU’s leadership position” in critical technologies and “a common strategy needs to be put forward to develop crucial value chains for critical raw materials”.
Work should also be done on research and innovation, including improving the recyclability of renewable energy technology, which would help Europe recover materials.
On the international level, the countries reiterate support given by EU member states for the Commission to secure targets to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030.
“Together with a global energy efficiency target, this could foster international collaboration and innovation, drive investments in renewable technologies, create jobs, and enhance energy security,” the countries say.
“It would also underscore the collective commitment of nations by providing a clear and actionable roadmap for the global roll-out of renewable energy technologies,” they add.
The EU will push for these targets at the COP28 international climate conference in Dubai in November and December. Work is ongoing in the EU to boost renewables and develop a sustainable, secure electricity grid.
*first published in: Euractiv.com