The European Commission had yesterday presented the REPowerEU Plan, its response to the hardships and global energy market disruption.
The green transformation will strengthen economic growth, security, and climate action for Europe and their partners. The Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is at the heart of the REPowerEU Plan, supporting coordinated planning and financing of cross-border and national infrastructure as well as energy projects and reforms. The Commission proposes to make targeted amendments to the RRF Regulation to integrate dedicated REPowerEU chapters in Member States' existing recovery and resilience plans (RRPs), in addition to the large number of relevant reforms and investments which are already in the RRPs. The country-specific recommendations in the 2022 European Semester cycle will feed into this process.
Energy savings are the quickest and cheapest way to address the current energy crisis, and reduce bills. The Commission proposes to enhance 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 legislation. Saving energy will help Europe to prepare for the potential challenges of next winter. Therefore the Commission also published an ‘EU Save Energy Communication' detailing short-term behavioural changes which could cut gas and oil demand by 5% and encouraging Member States to start specific communication campaigns targeting households and industry. Member States are also encouraged to use fiscal measures to encourage energy savings, such as reduced VAT rates on energy efficient heating systems, building insulation and appliances and products. The Commission also sets out contingency measures in case of severe supply disruption, and will issue guidance on prioritisation criteria for customers and facilitate a coordinated EU demand reduction plan.
Besides, diversifying supplies for several months, and secured record levels of LNG imports and higher pipeline gas deliveries. The newly created EU Energy Platform, supported by regional task forces, will enable voluntary common purchases of gas, LNG and hydrogen by pooling demand, optimising infrastructure use and coordinating outreach to suppliers.
The European Commission proposes to increase the headline 2030 target for renewables from 40% to 45% under the Fit for 55 package. Setting this overall increased ambition will create the framework for other initiatives, including:
A dedicated EU Solar Strategy to double solar photovoltaic capacity by 2025 and install 600GW by 2030.
A Solar Rooftop Initiative with a phased-in legal obligation to install solar panels on new public and commercial buildings and new residential buildings.
Doubling of the rate of deployment of heat pumps, and measures to integrate geothermal and solar thermal energy in modernised district and communal heating systems.
A Commission Recommendation to tackle slow and complex permitting for major renewable projects, and a targeted amendment to the Renewable Energy Directive to recognise renewable energy as an overriding public interest. Dedicated ‘go-to' areas for renewables should be put in place by Member States with shortened and simplified permitting processes in areas with lower environmental risks. To help quickly identify such ‘go-to' areas, the Commission is making available datasets on environmentally sensitive areas as part of its digital mapping tool for geographic data related to energy, industry and infrastructure.
Setting a target of 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10 million tonnes of imports by 2030, to replace natural gas, coal and oil in hard-to-decarbonise industries and transport sectors. To accelerate the hydrogen market increased sub-targets for specific sectors would need to be agreed by the co-legislators. The Commission is also publishing two Delegated Acts on the definition and production of renewable hydrogen to ensure that production leads to net decarbonisation. To accelerate hydrogen projects, additional funding of €200 million is set aside for research, and the Commission commits to complete the assessment of the first Important Projects of Common European Interest by the summer.
A Biomethane Action Plan sets out tools including a new biomethane industrial partnership and financial incentives to increase production to 35bcm by 2030, including through the Common Agricultural Policy.
Replacing coal, oil and natural gas in industrial processes will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen security and competitiveness. Energy savings, efficiency, fuel substitution, electrification, and an enhanced uptake of renewable hydrogen, biogas and biomethane by industry could save up to 35 bcm of natural gas by 2030 on top of what is foreseen under the Fit for 55 proposals.
The Commission will roll out carbon contracts for difference to support the uptake of green hydrogen by industry and specific financing for REPowerEU under the Innovation Fund, using emission trading revenues to further support the switch away from Russian fossil fuel dependencies. The Commission is also giving guidance on renewable energy and power purchase agreements and will provide a technical advisory facility with the European Investment Bank. To maintain and regain technological and industrial leadership in areas such as solar and hydrogen, and to support the workforce, the Commission proposes to establish an EU Solar Industry Alliance and a large-scale skills partnership. The Commission will also intensify work on the supply of critical raw materials and prepare a legislative proposal.
Delivering the REPowerEU objectives requires an additional investment of €210 billion between now and 2027.To support REPowerEU, €225 billion is already available in loans under theRRF. The Commission adopted legislation and guidance to Member States today on how to modify and complement their RRPs in the context of REPowerEU. In addition, the Commission proposes to increase the RRF financial envelope with€20 billion in grants from the sale of EU Emission Trading System allowances currently held in the Market Stability Reserve, to be auctioned in a way that does not disrupt the market.