The Directive establishes national targets for renewable energy generation – which includes road transport fuels, electricity and heat. These are intended to drive the use of renewables to 20% of energy consumption by 2020. However, governments that fail to meet their targets will not automatically be penalised.
The Directive should be rubber-stamped shortly at a meeting of EU heads of government, which is expected to put a final polish on the EU’s ‘climate and energy package’ of legislation. However, the Austrian government could block the Directive by questioning its national target of 34%, according to the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).
The bulk of the Directive’s text was fixed last week and finalised in a meeting of energy ministers on Monday. Italy insisted on a clause requiring the Directive to be reviewed in 2014, to the dismay of green groups. The agreed text makes clear that no changes should be made to national renewable energy targets, although the European Commission would still have the power to do so.
Green groups broadly welcomed the Directive, with Greenpeace describing it as a “a new dawn for a clean energy future that will benefit the climate and the economy". However, it joined other NGOs in criticising the Directive for promoting biofuels.
Industrial organisations were more upbeat. EREC said the law was the "most important piece of legislation on renewable energy in the world". Christian Kjaer, Chief Executive of wind group EWEA, said that Europe had rejected oil imports, “opting instead to put the money to work at home and exploit our abundant domestic renewable energy resources.”
Referring to the current UN climate negotiations in Poznan, Rapporteur MEP Claude Turmes said the deal was a “source of encouragement at the beginning of the week in which EU leaders will meet to decide on whether the EU keeps its leadership and credibility on climate policies.”