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Promotion of the Use of Energy from Renewable Sources (RES) Directive
Updated: July 2015
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.
Sustainability of Liquid Biofuels and Solid Biomass
National Renewable Energy
Action Plans (NREAP)
A Hard and Tricky Road to Renewable Energy
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
Bit of History
Read the full Directive's text here.