EREF is the voice of all renewable energy types in Europe, it has been offering its members’ expertise for more than two decades – both in policy and implementation – to foster the transformation to a fully decarbonised and 100% renewable-based energy system. Uniting Europe’s independent renewable producers since 1991, EREF monitors and shapes the public debate; improves policy-making processes that lead the way to climate change mitigation; while also fostering a greener and more sustainable future for Europe and its citizens.
Stronger Climate Ambition for Europe
EREF advocates for more ambitious climate and energy goals, as formulated under the EU’s Green Deal and REPowerEU initiatives, by considerably increasing the 2030 targets for GHG emission reduction, renewables share in EU’s energy mix and energy efficiency – in order to pave the way towards reaching full decarbonization by 2050. Although recent data shows it is unlikely to keep temperature rise below 1.5°, higher renewables target levels send out strong signals to the EU’s Member States and domestic decision-makers who have to understand that the abundant wealth of all kinds of renewable energy in Europe has to offer is the best bet to stop the global warming we have at our hands.
In the context of the global warming crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EREF strongly supports the recent shift in European policy-making that is meant to substantially transform Europe’s economies – as far as becoming 100% fuelled by renewables. For decades, EREF has been working relentlessly to demonstrate many of the great benefits that a meaningful increase in renewable energy deployment can offer. Not only does it reduce energy costs for consumers and the industry (with renewables largely being the cheapest source) and allows to cut economic ties with rogue states and warmongers alike, but will also allow us to act towards solving our planet’s climate emergency and secure the leadership in innovation and technology development, as well as allowing us to create labour markets that are future-proof.
EREF provides advice to government officials and relevant climate and energy stakeholders at both EU and national level, improving the adoption of policies that accommodate higher renewable energy shares. This will allow a more consequent exploitation of Europe’s enormous potential. EREF calls for reforms that recognize renewable energy deployment as a matter of public interest and energy security. Consequently, permitting processes must be shortened drastically and obstacles in state aid rules, taxonomy, energy taxation and emission trading must be removed. This extends to cooperating on all available policy options, revising existing, insufficient legislation, including thorough market designs that will help decarbonise the petroleum sector and foster the uptake of hydrogen that is produced from renewable electricity.
Integrating the EU’s decarbonization process into Europe’s economic development
Decarbonising EU economies largely depends on changing the ways we produce and consume energy, with 72% of its GHG emissions stemming from the energy sector, including transport, industry, as well as heating & cooling. With Europe’s economic development being heavily impacted by the global warming, Russia’s war on Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, EREF strongly recommends EU leaders to intrinsically tie measures to boost economic development and recovery with those targeting to drive forward EU’s decarbonisation process, emphasising at the same time the deployment of renewable energies and energy efficiency measures across all sectors. This would not only alleviate the effect skyrocketing energy price levels have on the purchasing power of European citizens, but also guarantee Europe’s secure energy supply (which is currently at risk) – and in return sustain our economies’ growth and competitiveness.
Integrating decarbonization policies into measures supporting our economies direct investments towards innovative and carbon-neutral solutions is the best, most cost-effective, and only viable route to sustainable development and recovery. Allocating a large share of EU funding to implement initiatives developed under the Green Deal, and more recently, under REPowerEU plan, would provide the necessary means to accelerate investments into Europe’s renewable energy value chain, strengthening Europe’s labour market through millions of jobs that are future-proof and located within our continent. It all forms a basis on which EREF keeps engaging with policymakers and designs the central elements of a truly green and decarbonised economy.
Promoting an EU-wide network of key contacts for renewables
EREF connects authorities and relevant climate and energy stakeholders, including policymakers in Brussels and across Europe’s capitals or regions, experts from the RES industry, academia, and civil society. This helps designing better policies that can ensure reaching high renewables target by 2030, by exchanging best practices and addressing regulatory gaps and barriers that persist at national and sub-national levels.
Here, EREF acts as information hub between EU and its Member States, fostering the dialogue among competent EU institutions and our member organisations – who are leading renewables associations at national level and have long-standing position in renewable energy development, both in policy and implementation. This dialogue is based on EREF’s role in improving EU climate and energy legislation, with the objective to integrate higher RES shares into Europe’s markets and systems. On the one hand, EREF builds its advocacy work and the formulation of recommendations on expertise that is available among its national member organisations, passing on valuable and practical insights on opportunities and barriers to competent EU institutions – who in return are enabled to take informed decisions. On the other, EREF helps renewable power producers anticipate the consequences legal and policy reforms can have on the national market environment in which they operate, by disseminating early and accurate information on trends and implementation pathways of regulatory frameworks evolution.
Improving the National Energy and Climate Plans
Under the EU’s 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 between 2021 and 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 efficient 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 economies, and to encourage strategy-policy design that matches EU’s commitment made under 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 gaps identified.
Promoting individual and collective self-consumption of renewable energy
EREF calls on national decision-makers to effectively transpose and implement EU rules on individual and collective self-consumption, empowering citizens to produce and consume their own renewable energy – and play an active part in the transition towards full decarbonisation. Exploiting the widely untapped potential of self-consumption will make Europe’s citizens and businesses benefit from
environmental, economic, technical, and industrial innovation – and in return – foster the transformation towards decarbonised and decentralised systems that are powered by renewables.
EREF especially encourages the establishment of collective energy initiatives, which come in form of renewable or citizen energy communities and make tremendous value propositions: people having so far been mostly passive consumers of energy become engaged citizens who foster sustainable development at a local level – it makes community life more resilient, through improved labour markets and significantly reduced public and private expenditure on energy. This can, in the light of current price levels, deliver important economic relief and even mitigate risks of social unrest and populist deception. In parallel, active citizen participation strengthens democratic processes and transparent governance models, e.g., when local authorities direct public investments into measures to implement local climate change strategies – such as community energy initiatives.
This is why EREF works closely with the European Commission, competent national authorities and involved climate and energy stakeholders, to monitor and improve the transposition of provisions adopted under the Clean Energy Package. Member States are requested to establish enabling frameworks for self-consumers, as well as renewable citizen energy communities – something most countries have not, at present, done sufficiently yet, although progress is being made. In this context, EREF is conducting policy work among dedicated platform and fora – such as the Community Power Coalition – bringing together like-minded organisations who are pursuing the objective to have many more Europeans make and use their own renewable energy (see also EREF’s role in the IANOS project).
Getting the hydrogen uptake right
EREF supports the development and market uptake of hydrogen that is produced from renewables and expected to play a major role in Europe’s transition to net-zero. Green hydrogen can help to decarbonise the fossil gas sector, in combination with biogas solutions, and drastically reduce emission in “hard-to-abate” applications in the industry, in air and heavy-duty transport, and in shipping. For EREF, it is vital to support and develop green hydrogen from all available and sustainable renewable sources, incl. wind, sun, hydro, biogas, and others. However, the focus should lie on domestic and regional production and consumption pathways, through the expansion of renewable generation capacities that are located within the EU.
By contrast, EREF firmly rejects all non-green hydrogen, which opens the door to misleading pathways that turn investments and research away from energy efficiency, circular economy, and renewable energy deployment – all of which offer powerful solutions to the world’s energy crisis. EREF will keep promoting the development of market designs and incentives that facilitate a large-scale uptake of green hydrogen (see our position paper here), and at the same time advocate against the fossil fuel industry trying to find loopholes in such schemes.