REPower EU plan legislative proposal

In “A European Green Deal”

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On 18 May 2022, the European Commission presented its REPowerEU plan as a response to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The REPower EU plan seeks to both end the EU's dependence on Russian fossil fuels, and make further advances in tackling the climate crisis.

As part of the REPowerEU plan, the Commission has proposed a series of targeted amendments of existing legislation in the energy field, namely the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). All three directives are already in the process of being revised as part of the Fit for 55 package, which was adopted by the Commission in 2021. The aim of these targeted amendments is to feed into this ongoing process of legislative revision while Council and Parliament are still finalising their negotiating mandates, so that all EU Institutions are working on more ambitious proposals as a starting point.

Most of the targeted amendments concern the RED. The Commission’s proposal would raise the required share of renewable energy sources (RES) in EU final energy consumption to 45 % by 2030. This RES share is higher than the 40 % proposed by the Commission in its Fit for 55 proposal (July 2021) and much higher than the 32.5 % share in the existing RED (last amended in 2018). The Commission’s proposal includes enhanced measures to accelerate permitting procedures for new RES power plants, or for adaptation of existing RES installations. Member States would be required to designate ‘renewables go-to areas’, which are particularly suitable areas for RES installations and would benefit from accelerated permitting procedures. The proposal would limit the grounds of legal objection to new RES installations by considering that RES production, its connection to the grid, the grid itself and related storage assets would be presumed to be of overriding public interest for specific purposes.

The EPBD would be amended to create an obligation for Member States to ensure new buildings are solar ready and to install solar energy installations on buildings. This would apply from 2027 to all new public and commercial buildings with useful floor area larger than 250 square meters, and from 2028 to all existing public and commercial buildings of this size. From 2030, this requirement would extend to cover all new residential buildings.

The EED would be amended to ensure that Member States collectively reduce their energy consumption by at least 13 % in 2030, as compared to the projections of the 2020 Reference Scenario. EU final energy consumption must not exceed 750 Mtoe and EU primary energy consumption must not exceed 980 Mtoe in 2030. This is more ambitious than the Commission’s Fit for 55 proposal to revise the EED (adopted in July 2021), which proposed a further reduction of 9 % on the 2020 reference scenario.

In the Parliament, the file was referred to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), which appointed Markus Pieper (EPP, Germany) as rapporteur. The Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) was associated to the ITRE report under Rule 57 (European Parliament Rules of Procedure). A draft ITRE report was published on 5 September, with amendments tabled until 29 September 2022 and later negotiated. The final report was adopted by the ITRE committee on 14 November 2022, and will be referred to the plenary session in December 2022. The ITRE report would shorten the maximum period to approve new RES installations from twelve to nine months, if these located in the so-called "renewables acceleration areas", and 18 months in other areas (24 months in the original Commission proposal). The ITRE report suggests applying the "positive silence" principle to these administrative procedures. Permits to install solar energy equipment on buildings would need to be delivered within three months, using a simple notification procedure for smaller installations (<50kW), while the process for repowering existing RES plants would take no longer than six months. The ITRE report does not amend the renewable and efficiency targets indicated in the Commission's REPowerEU proposal, which are higher than those proposed as part of the Fit for 55 package in July 2021.

The Council of the EU has discussed this file extensively in its preparatory bodies, including the Working Party on Energy.

References:

Author: Alex Wilson, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/11/2022.