EU on track for 2030 renewables target – but could do more


EU member states are on target to hit the bloc's target of generating 32% of energy from renewables by 2030, according to industry body SolarPower Europe, but more will be required to attain the raised 38-40% ambition voiced by the European Commission.

With the trade body's SolarPower Summit 2020 virtual event being staged this week, and the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday forecasting solar will be Europe's largest power source – by capacity – by 2025, SolarPower Europe has assessed the renewables strategies drawn up by the EU's 27 member states.

The bloc's members each had to submit a National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) last year, outlining how they would help the EU hit its 32% target.

SolarPower Europe has gone through the 27 NECPs and estimated the bloc is on track to have 33.1-33.7% of its energy from clean power sources in a decade's time. However, Raffaele Rossi, a policy analyst at the trade body, highlighted solar auctions, prosumer-supporting measures and red tape reduction as key areas where member states are lacking the regulatory measures needed to drive the solar revolution.

“While the final NECPs show that EU member states are moving in the right direction to meet renewable energy targets, our analysis shows that many plans do not provide enough information on regulatory frameworks,” said Rossi, in a statement issued by SolarPower Europe on Tuesday, adding: “Ambitious targets must be supported by a strong regulatory framework, capable of providing necessary visibility to investors.”

The Netherlands won praise from SolarPower Europe for plans to have 27 GW of solar generation capacity by 2030 and to generate 10 TWh from small clean energy systems and Italy was applauded for plans to reduce bureaucracy. With 14 member states planning to develop rules related to prosumers – households which both consume energy from, and generate power for the grid – the trade body has estimated the 27 NECPs would add up to 19 GW of new solar per year, for 209 GW of new capacity this decade, if fulfilled.

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IEA executive director Fatih Birol on Tuesday offered an insight from his organization's next World Energy Outlook report, which indicated solar would dominate the bloc's generation capacity within five years but SolarPower Europe pointed out the new solar envisaged by the NECPs would still fall short of the projects modeled in even its ‘medium' future solar scenario – which posits 24 GW of new solar per year up to 2024.

With recent reports highlighting the contribution renewables – and solar in particular – can make towards alleviating unemployment caused by the energy transition, SolarPower Europe's Rossi said the removal of regulatory barriers to PV deployment could drive 500,000 new jobs by 2030, most of them in rooftop solar.

The SolarPower Summit will enter its final day tomorrow.

This copy was amended on 05/10/20 to indicate the renewable energy targets mentioned in relation to the EU and European Commission concern total energy consumption, not just electricity generation capacity, as previously reported.

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