Will EU countries reach their 2020 renewable energy targets?

The EWEA blog caught up with Emmanuelle Raoult, Chair of a session which delves into Europe’s progress on meeting the 20% renewable energy by 2020 target, to find out the current state of play…

What are National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) and why are they important?

NREAPs are detailed roadmaps of how each EU Member State expects to reach its legally binding 2020 targets. These are essential for Europe’s energy future, and can deliver the strong and stable regulatory framework that is needed to develop renewable energy in Europe. Furthermore, NREAPs give the renewables industry ‘business case certainty’ – a key driver to attract investment in renewable energy. As wind energy projects are 20+ year investments, decreasing the risk of regulatory volatility is paramount to achieving an acceptable return on investment. NREAPs – if properly implemented – help reduce uncertainty.

Are we on track so far?

So far, as of mid-March 2012, only 15 Member States have provided their Progress Report, 12 reports are still expected to be delivered. However, according to the European Commission, 10 of the EU’s 27 Member States are likely to surpass their national targets, while a further 12 will meet their goals. Just five countries are predicted to miss their targets using domestic renewable energy sources alone.

What might stop EU countries from meeting plans set out in the NREAPs?

Financing is key for the development of renewable energies both in the run-up to 2020 and post-2020. There is an urgent need for action at EU level in order to fight instability – including the very damaging retroactive changes to renewable energy support schemes – which are currently taking place in a range of EU Member States.

What happens to countries which don’t meet their targets?

The directive legally obliges each EU Member State to ensure that its 2020 target is met and to outline the ‘appropriate measures’ it will take do so in a National Renewable Energy Action Plan that had to be submitted by 30 June 2010 to the European Commission. EU countries have certain mechanisms they can use to help meet these targets. The European Commission will be able to initiate infringement proceedings if a Member State fails to introduce “appropriate measures” to enable it to meet its interim targets.

What are the next steps after 2020?

The European Commission will publish a Renewable Energy Roadmap for the post-2020 period. This will be a very welcome development that will allow the wind power sector to ensure that a stable regulatory framework replaces the Renewable Energy Directive of 2009 when it expires at the end of 2020. Binding 2030 and 2050 renewable energy targets will give the needed indications to investors and the banking sector that renewable energy policy is firm and long-term in the EU. It is crucial that these binding targets are followed up by infringement procedures for Member States that do not respect their commitments.

What are you most looking forward to at EWEA 2012?

The European Wind Energy Association conference is a key platform for the exchange of views with European energy stakeholders (wind manufacturers, developers, utilities, government representatives, representatives of EU institutions, Member States’ wind associations, consulting/finance specialists, engineering companies, etc.). This year the financial crisis is at the heart of debate on the 2020 targets: project finance is being threatened by changes to support schemes taking place in EU Member States wishing to cut down budget expenditures. The key question at European Wind Energy Association 2012 will probably be: how can we discuss 2020 and post 2020 targets when current wind projects find it difficult to secure financing in Europe?

Zoë Casey, http://blog.ewea.org/