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Promotion of the Use of Energy from Renewable Sources (RES) Directive

Updated: July 2015

Index of this Page:

· Main Elements of the Renewable Energy Directive Read

· Sustainability of Liquid Biofuels and Solid Biomass Read
· National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) Read
· A Hard and Tricky Road to Renewable Energy Read
· New Target 2030 Read
· INFORSE-Europe's Recommendations Read
· INFORSE-Europe's Recommendations Read

· A Bit of History Read

Main Elements of the Renewable Energy Directive

The Directive 2009/28/EC sets national targets for renewable energy for the 27 EU countries, adding up to a 20% EU-average renewable-energy target for 2020. Each national target is about 13% above the renewable energy use of the country in 2005.

The targets are taken as a fraction of the final energy. With the use of final energy as basis instead of primary energy, energy that feeds directly into the system close to the final demand (such as solar energy and wind power) is valuated higher than energies that have high losses in the conversion from primary to final energy (such as fuels for thermal power plants). The use of final energy also makes it easier to reach the target, as it is easier to reach 20% of final energy than 20% of primary energy with the current renewable energy technologies.

The targets have some potential loopholes. The main possible loophole is with renewable energy production outside EU, where the renewable energy production outside the EU can be sent to an EU country and non-renewable electricity could be sent in the other direction at other times during a year.

The special target of 10% renewable energy in transport can be reached with biofuels that meets a number of sustainability targets, with electricity, as well as with other energy carriers such as hydrogen. The last renewable energy progress report shows a 5.7 % share of renewable energy in transport in 2014, the 2020 target remains challenging but still feasible.

Electricity is included in the target for renewables in transports with the average, national renewable electricity fraction, or with the EU average (the countries can choose); but for road vehicles (not railways), the use of electricity is counted with the weight of 2.5. So in a country where 40% of the electricity comes from renewables, electricity in road transport is counted with a weight of 2.5 * 0.4 = 1.

Unfortunately, electric railways are not favoured in this way, in the example above their electricity is only included with a weight of 0.4.

A number of environmental criteria for sustainability of biofuels is included, including greenhouse gas emissions in production, but social criteria are currently addressed only subject to reporting, and effects of indirect land-use change (ILUC) is not taken into account. The effects on the ground of the other sustainability criteria for biofuels depend strongly on implementation. Therefore, INFORSE-Europe has proposed guidelines for implementation of the renewable transport target and the sustainability criteria for biofuels to make the biofuel use more sustainable in December 2009. Read: INFORSE on Biofuels ?09 (pdf file 61kB). INFORSE-Europe has also proposed a moratorium for import of unsustainable biofuels in December 2008. Read: INFORSE on Biofuels '08 (pdf file 29 kB).

Requirements for information and training will push the countries to build capacities to implement renewable energy. INFORSE-Europe has made proposals for implementation of the training provisions of the Directive in December 2009. Read INFORSE on RES training (pdf file 123 kB).

There are efficiency requirements of biomass boilers (85% for domestic biomass boilers) that will increase performance of this equipment. Heat pumps are included with the ambient energy that they collect. For electric heat pumps this is too favourable, as the electricity that they consume is usually much more polluting than the gas that they typically replace. There is also a minimum efficiency requirement for electric heat pumps that is easy to fulfil for most heat pumps (it requires that the heat output from a heat pumps is at least 15% higher than the primary energy needed to produce the electricity that it consumes, using the national average for electricity generation)

Countries must set minimum levels of renewables in buildings, but the minimum can be zero, if a country decides so. Minimum levels of renewables in buildings can push local renewables if they are implemented ambitiously by countries, as we have seen in Spain.

The Fuel Quality Directive 98/70/EC revised by the Directive 2009/30/EC set specifications on diesel and petrol in order to reduce greenhouse gas. It has also established criterias for biofuels.

Legislative resolution of 28 April 2015 amending the Fuel Quality Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive aims to promote the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency and saving in the Transport sector.This resolution states that the share of energy from biofuel produced from certain types of cereals; starch-rich crops, oils and sugar crops should not be more than 7 % of the final energy consumption in transport in 2020.

Moreover, every Member State shall set a national target (0,5% of the share of energy from renewable sources) of advanced biofuels (algae, wastes...) in order to reduce the effect on climate change.

Read the resolution :

Sustainability of Liquid Biofuels and Solid Biomass
The Renewable Energy Directive [2009/28/EC] set up the sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids (link here), that are required to count biofuels in the target of renewable energy in transport in 2020. And on February 2010, the European Commission (EC) presented and adopted the report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid biomass and biogas in electricity, heating and cooling (find out more here).

National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAP)
As part of the implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive, the EU-27 Member States were obliged to submit a National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) by June 30, 2010. Then the EC evaluated the NREAP's, and the countries should complete the implementation until the end of 2010.
The Plans included detailed roadmaps of how each Member State expects to reach its legally binding 2020 target for the share of renewable energy in their final energy consumption. Member States also set out the sectoral targets, the technology mix they expect to use, the trajectory they will follow and the measures and reforms they will undertake to overcome the barriers to developing renewable energy.
The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) are available at:

Cooperation Promotion
The Directive specifies cooperation mechanisms amongst EU countries and non-EU countries in order to help them meet their renewable energy targets.

  • Statistical transfers of renewable energy
  • Joint renewable energy projects
  • Joint renewable energy support schemes

A Hard and Tricky Road to Renewable Energy
Released on June 16th 2015, the renewable energy progress report from the European Commission highlights that the European Union is on its way to meet its target for 20 % renewable energy by 2020. Indeed, 25 EU countries are on track to meet their interim 2013/2014 energy targets. In 2014, the part of renewable energy in the final energy consumption in the European Union is 15.3 %. However, three countries are not close to their interim target, and the successful ones will have to intensify their efforts considering the energy targets will become tougher in the years to come. EU countries must strengthen their cooperation mechanisms in order to build a competitive Energy Union.

In its 2013 evaluation of the progress of the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), the EU Commission found that the first interim target for renewable energy was met for EU as a whole, but also concluded that several countries needed to improve conditions for renewable energy in particular in electricity, in order to maintain a positive development to reach the 2020 target. Read COM213/175 Optimistic Projections

28 November 2011. New report launched summarizing the projections of the NREAP: "Renewable energy projections as published in the NREAP" published by the EEA and the Energy Research Centre in the Netherlands (ECN) It combines the figures of all Member States and concludes that if the plans are realised, the 27 EU countries will have some 20.7% renewable energy in the final energy mix by 2020, clearly above the target of 20%.

New target 2030
As part of its Energy and climate strategy for 2030, EU member states set a new renewable energy target of at least 27 % of final energy consumption. This 2030 Framework for climate and energy aims to bring an efficient sustainable energy system in the EU in order to meet its 2050 energy greenhouse gas reductions target.

INFORSE-Europe's Recommendations
Therefore, INFORSE-Europe has the proposals for implementation of the directive in progressive and sustainable ways. The proposals include recommendations for fulfilling of targets, for calculations, for administrative issues, for information and training, for network access, and for sustainability of biomass. Read: INFORSE-Europe recommendations - April 2010 (pdf 240 kB).
INFORSE-Europe is developing proposals for implementation of the directive, including training requirements and sustainability of biomass.

A Bit of History
Following the European Climate Change Programme to implement the Kyoto Protocol in EU, directives for renewable energy in electricity (RES-E) and transport (RES-T) were adopted in respectively 2001 and 2003. They included targets for 2010 of 22% renewable energy in electricity and 5.75% in transport. The directives assisted the developments of renewable energy, in particular in electricity, but the targets were not met. Attempts to make a directive for renewable energy in heating did not lead to special directive for this sector.
In 2007, the EU countries agreed to develop a climate and energy package with targets and measures for 2020, and in the end of 2008 they agreed the elements of the package including the 20% renewable energy target and the content of the Renewable Energy Directive.


Read the full Directive's text here.

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