EREF is the voice of Europe’s renewable energy sector and issues initiatives and solutions to the challenges arising from the transition to a fully decarbonised and 100% renewables’ energy system. In this role, EREF monitors and gives impetus to the public debate and policy-making process that leads the way to climate change mitigation through consequent deployment of renewable energy technologies, fostering a greener and more sustainable future for Europe and its citizens.
Stronger Climate Ambition for Europe
EREF fully supports stronger climate ambition for Europe, as recently announced by the European Commission with their intention to increase the 2030 emissions reduction target from the previously agreed 40% to minimum 55%. Although this level of ambition might still not be enough to keep temperatures below 1.5 ° Celsius, it sends out strong signals to the EU’s Member States and its domestic decision-makers. In this context, EREF advises national governments to agree on the Commission’s proposal and to reflect this support in policy-making under the Green Deal – that facilitates higher RES shares, increases energy efficiency, reforms energy taxation and reinforces the Emissions Trading System. EREF’s efforts to make Europe become climate-neutral by 2050 extends to cooperating with the Commission on all available policy options, to revise its existing – yet insufficient – energy and climate legislation, including a recast Renewable Energy Directive and EU ETS Regulation, as well as a Just Transition Fund that does not sustain the gas sector with taxpayers’ money.
Integrating economic recovery stimulus and the Green Deal’s initiatives
In light of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Europe’s people and its economy, EREF strongly recommends for EU leaders to intrinsically tie recovery stimulus packages to the Green Deal’s initiatives and boost our economies with a focus on deploying renewable energies across all sectors. Integrating this stimulus and the Green Deal will direct investments towards innovative and carbon-neutral solutions that are the best, most cost-effective and one and only route to economic recovery, both at national and international level, while at the same time the further establishment towards a secure and 100% renewable energy system in the 2050 timeframe is being pursued.
Allocating a large share of the Next Generation EU fund to implementing the Green Deal’s initiatives would create the necessary means for a rapid economic recovery, accelerate investments into Europe’s renewable energy value chain, across the electricity, heating, cooling, building and transport sectors. In return, this will strengthen Europe’s leadership in sustainable development can improve the labour market with millions of jobs that are future-proof and located within our continent. EREF will keep engaging with policy-makers and help design the Green Deal as a central element of a truly green and decarbonised economy.
Promoting an EU-wide network of key contacts for renewables
The Renewables Networking Platform (RNP) connects relevant actors at European, national, regional and local level and facilitates the development of better policies that will ensure to reach the minimum 32% renewables target by 2030 while promoting best practices and addressing regulatory gaps and barriers that persist at national and sub-national level.
EREF’s acts as an information hub between the EU and its Member States, facilitating the dialogue among its national renewables associations and the competent EU institutions, as well as Europe’s wider climate action and energy stakeholder community.
EREF collects and analyses the drafting and adoption of the EU’s climate action and energy legislation that has an impact on the further deployment of renewables in Europe’s markets and systems. EREF disseminates this information to national stakeholders and receives in return country-specific information on trends and developments, including opportunities and barriers. EREF then formulates policy asks for EU decision-makers.
Improving the National Energy and Climate Plans
Under the EU’s latest governance rules, Member States are required to issue National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), detailing how they intend to pursue their climate and energy ambition, including the presentation of national strategies and policy instruments they plan to implement from 2021 to 2030. The NECPs covers each country’s 2030 targets for RES, energy efficiency, and CO2 reduction, and quantify the investments needed to reach these targets, as well as measures for the effective phase-out of fossil fuels.
EREF works with the European Commission and – through its member associations and network of experts – with national governments on improving the NECP’s content and ambition. EREF’s media and policy actions draw attention to the importance of accelerating the pace at which Member States are decarbonising their societies, and to encourage strategy and policy design that match the EU’s commitment to reaching the Paris Agreement – and make valuable national contributions to climate change mitigation. To this end, EREF advocates for the mandatory full implementation of NECPs, subject to infringement procedure if this is not achieved and to remove a number of gaps that were identified in course of the recently finalised drafting and submission process.
Ensuring Support for Renewable Energy Development
With the State Aid Guidelines for Renewable Energy and Environmental Protection (EEAG)reaching the end of their term in 2020, the Commission is currently assessing whether the rules are still fit for purpose for the time between 2020 and 2030. In the meantime, the current EEAG has been extended until 2021.
The outcome of this process will serve as a basis for the Commission to decide on whether or not to prolong the current rules or whether to reform them entirely. It is crucial that any revision of the State Aid Guidelines must be consistent and support the Green Deal and the climate targets. EREF has developed a position paper on this matter, setting out recommendations for the revision of the State Aid Guidelines.
The European Commission can no longer contradict itself by setting out ambitious climate targets, while also approving State Aid measures without due consideration or even in contradiction to EU climate laws and objectives. Member States need clear indication as to how state aid measures should be assessed and aligned with climate targets. EREF is monitoring the developments closely, while also actively promoting wide-scale change to the current State Aid Guidelines.
Promoting individual and collective self-consumption of renewable energy
EREF calls on decision-makers to Decarbonise NOW (read our statement here), and to drastically reconsider the EU’s and its Member States’ policy priorities, by committing to sustainable development and more ambitious energy and climate targets. This requires incentivising a greater number of the EU’s citizens and businesses to exploit the widely untapped potential of individual and collective self-consumption of renewable energy, for the sake of rapid and effective decarbonisation.
To this purpose, EREF is cooperating on a number of initiatives and delivering policy recommendations to decision-makers and the wider energy and climate action stakeholder community across the EU and its Member States. The goal is to have many more Europeans producing and consuming their own electricity, and to find solutions that effectively remove barriers and connect and integrate higher RES shares into the networks. EREF’s positions are available here.
As a member of the EU Alliance on Community Power, EREF promotes the development of citizen and community energy ownership, that will help transform our energy systems until they are 100% renewables based. This will be achieved by providing advocacy and legal support to nascent and existing forms of cooperative/community energy – all of which must spread further across Europe if we are to have more citizens taking part in the energy transition and climate change.
EREF actively contributes to the Small is Beautiful campaign, giving support to small-scale renewable installations and co-generation facilities in Europe. The campaign is driven by a strong network of more than 20 partners that represent renewable energy producers, local authorities such as mayors, energy cooperatives and communities, as well as property owners and construction associations, promoting to maintain or establish frameworks that benefit from small-scale renewables in Europe.
Getting the hydrogen strategy right
EREF supports the development of green hydrogen to compliment and support renewable energy deployment. In particular, the potential role green hydrogen can play in the “hard-to-abate” sectors such as industry, air transport and shipping. For EREF, it is vital that the EU supports and develops green hydrogen, ensuring that it comes from all available sustainable renewable sources, be it wind, sun, hydro, biogas, etc. However, there should be a focus on domestic and regional green production and consumption pathway.
EREF strongly rejects the use and development of all non-green hydrogen, an expensive and dangerous pathway that will take much needed investment and research away from energy efficiency, circular economy and renewable energy deployment, proven solutions to the climate crisis. EREF has prepared a position paper on this matter, highlighting our concerns and criticism of the proposed EU Hydrogen Strategy, and will continue to advocate against fossil fuels finding a foothold through hydrogen.
Debate on an EU Carbon Tax
The adoption of a Carbon tax (or CO2 price) has proven to be effective for internalising costs of pollution caused by the industries worst offenders. The debate is whether EU countries should adopt an EU-wide Carbon tax in order to consequently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
EREF is actively contributing to this debate and is convinced that the adoption of such a tax would ensure that those emitting the most also pay their fair share in the energy transition.