• Ron Kotrba

European Parliament committee passes REDII revisions, plenary vote to come in September


Members of European Parliament on the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee voted July 13 on revising the Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), a move required by the Fit for 55 package adopted last July to achieve a 55 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. The July 13 vote was 54 to 14 with six abstentions in favor of a variety of measures, including raising the share of renewables in the EU’s final energy consumption to 45 percent by 2030. The target is also backed by the European Commission under its "RepowerEU" package.

In the transport sector, the committee agreed that renewables deployment should lead to a 16 percent reduction in GHG emissions through more advanced biofuels and a more ambitious quota for renewable fuels of nonbiological origin, such as hydrogen.

In a joint statement, several European agriculture and biofuel organizations said the measure was “a positive step” as committee members voted “decisively in favor of increasing the ambition for GHG-emissions reduction in transport while leaving member states free to use crop-based biofuels in their transport energy mix.”

The groups went on to say the committee position “largely maintains the framework for crop-based biofuels as suggested by the European Commission, with a crop cap set at each member state’s 2020 final consumption of energy in transport, allowing +1 percent flexibility with a maximum of 7 percent. ITRE members signaled that sustainably produced crop-based biofuels do play an important role in transport decarbonization—today and tomorrow. This is certainly an improvement over the misguided approach toward agriculture taken by the ENVI (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) committee, which would severely reduce the cap on crop-based biofuels and create a gap in the transport-energy mix that would have to be filled by imported fossil fuel.”

Other elements of the measure include doubling the number of cross-border projects for the expansion of green electricity to two projects per member state. Member states with the highest annual electricity consumption will be obliged to adopt a third project by 2030.

The committee also requires member states to set an indicative target for innovative renewable energy technology of at least 5 percent of newly installed renewable energy capacity. MEPs also insist on transparency of green-electricity components and the simplification of hydrogen ramp-up, including a simpler system to guarantee its origin.

In a separate vote, MEPs backed the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive, the law that sets energy-saving targets in both primary and final energy consumption in the EU. MEPs raised the EU target for reducing final and primary energy consumption. Member states should collectively ensure a reduction in energy consumption of at least 40 percent by 2030 in final energy consumption and 42.5 percent in primary energy consumption compared to 2007 projections. This is equal to 740 and 960 million tons of oil for final and primary energy consumption, respectively. Member states will be responsible to set binding national contributions to achieve these targets.

“Only the expansion of renewable energy means true independence,” said Markus Pieper, lead MEP on REDII. “Our vote demonstrates strong support for the increased 2030 target of 45 percent. At the same time, we confirm the need for more cross-border cooperation to expand renewable energy deployment and call for a diversified import strategy for hydrogen. We have also raised the requirements for the sustainability of biomass and fuels, while at the same time showing ways in which biogenic materials can make a real economic contribution to the energy transition.”

Niels Fuglsang, EED rapporteur, said, “I am happy we have broad political support for greater efforts for energy efficiency in the European Parliament. We are in a crisis where Putin is shutting off gas to the EU. One of our most effective answers to this is energy efficiency. Therefore, it is crucial that the committee today has voted for high and binding energy efficiency targets for the EU as a whole and for individual member states.”

Both measures will be voted on by the full House during its plenary session in Strasbourg, France, this September.

“With so much at stake ... it is clear the Parliament needs to recognize the potential of sustainable crop-based biofuels as an important component of EU renewable energy policy and a key provider of EU protein-rich coproducts for feed use until 2030 and beyond,” stated the EBB and cosignatories of the joint statement. “In light of the current geopolitical context, the EU should acknowledge and fully maximize the potential of certified sustainable crop-based biofuels in reaching the new EU policy priorities and targets for food and feed and energy security, while delivering on its climate ambitions. Our sectors are at the crossroads of moving towards climate-neutral food and feed production, fossil-fuel substitution and European energy independence, GHG-emissions savings and the domestic bioeconomy. At the same time, decisionmakers should recognize the synergies—between food, feed, and energy value chains in the EU.”

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