Spring is slowly coming to Brussels, and the EU institutions are also experiencing this rebirth feeling and the blooming of new ambitions in the energy field. It is also for this, that they are working full speed to deliver various exciting policy files on time.
Following up on the publication of the European Green Deal and the Climate Law, DG Energy of the European Commission worked in the past few months on the Fit for 55 Package and officially started the revision process of some key directives: the Renewable Energy (RED II) and the Energy Efficiency Directives (EED).
About the revision
The EU assessed that with the current policy framework in place, Europe will only achieve 60% of emissions reduction by 2050, far away from the goal of carbon neutrality. The GHG emissions reduction target is now set to -55% and the renewables and energy efficiency directives should be amended accordingly by June.
The reopening of these directives presents a valuable opportunity to address barriers to the deployment of solar thermal solutions and will be essential to ensure a more adequate policy framework for the sector. The Commission has launched the consultation process and invited key stakeholders to closed workshops to discuss concrete inputs for the amendment. In May, interservice consultations will take place to finalise the legislative proposals which will be officially published in June.
What the solar thermal sector wants
Solar Heat Europe is pushing for increased attention to decentralised production and renewable heat solutions. One of our main demands is to strengthen and make mandatory at the national level the Renewable Heat Obligations (Art.23 RED II). The revised directives should also establish a fair competition between power and heat generation and make RHC sources and thermal storage eligible for current support schemes which are only considering renewable electricity.
A higher ambition towards the RHC sector can be achieved with measures granting preferential access to renewable heat technologies to land and roof space, implementing a quota for locally generate renewable heat in industrial processes, a clear definition of sustainable waste heat, and the recognition of the role that solar thermal hybrid systems and collectors will have.
Finally, it is important to stress how the current EU modelling is not properly assessing energy efficiency and RES targets in relation to a higher target for GHG emissions reduction.
The EED and RED II revisions are just the beginning of a broader process that will see the renewal of the Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and other initiatives announced for the second quarter of the year: The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) with a proposal for EU to reuse the resources from the taxation system, the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the revision of the Energy Tax Directive, just to mention a few.
Spring also means changes and fresh starts and it is with a bit of winter melancholy that I say goodbye to my role in the secretariat, and to you, I hope that our path will cross again, all the best, and stay safe!
Irene di Padua, Policy Officer