Charles Michel, President of the European Council
Ulf Kristersson, Prime Minister of Sweden
Dear President Michel,
Dear Prime Minister Kristersson,
In March, EU ministers are expected to negotiate with the European Parliament and the Commission on the EU renewable energy target for 2030. The European Commission and the European Parliament are both in favour of setting the renewable energy target for Europe at 45% by 2030. Crucially, the 45% target was proposed by the European Commission as part of the REPowerEU war response to alleviate Europe’s dependency on Russian gas. Gas has proven to be unable to provide energy security in the EU. As a result, EU citizens have seen their energy bill skyrocket. To fall back on the 45% goal not only undermines European solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance but also endangers EU’s future security of energy supply.
In December, European Ministers agreed to support a target of only 40%. The 40% target is outdated. It was originally proposed in summer 2021, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the energy crisis. Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal and several EU Member States do support the 45% target.
As final EU negotiations take place, it is crucial that the Swedish Presidency sends the right signal for our citizens, companies, climate, and continent. Only a minimum target of 45% renewables, for 2030, keeps Europe on the path for 1.5°C1.
A 40% target – as currently endorsed by the Council of the European Union – is not compatible with a 1.5°C global warming limit.Restricting ambition now will only delay the energy transition, prolong our dependence on fossil energy imports, fuel further inflation, and fundamentally compromise our ability to meet legally binding climate targets.
Also, by 2050, around 45% of renewable energy production in Europe could be in the hands of citizens, about a quarter of this could come through participation in an energy community.2 This showcases the importance of local ownership of renewable production and supply in guaranteeing energy security and reinforces the imperative need for an at least 45% renewable target to allow them to reap their full potential.
In addition to climate and energy security incentives, a minimum 45% target is a no-regret economic opportunity. Renewables deliver local, future-proof, jobs. In 2021, even in the wake of the pandemic, solar PV employed over 100,000 new people in Europe. Solar PV will employ 1 million people in Europe by 20303.
Renewable value chains will be worth USO $650 billion annually by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency4 Europe, and Member States must play their part in the critical value chains of the future. A minimum 45% renewable goal truly commits the continent to clean tech prosperity and sends important signals to investors. In light of global competition for clean tech value chains and raw materials, a 45% renewable target aligns with the European efforts to support renewable energy manufacturing in Europe, accelerate renewable energy consumption in industry and the production of needed low carbon materials to deliver on Europe’s decarbonisation goals.
A 45% renewable target will strengthen EU leadership in innovative technologies. Ultimately this will reduce power systems management costs in ensuring higher diversity of supply.
A minimum 45% renewables in our energy mix is within reach.
EU solar PV installations grew by 47% last year with an additional 41.1 GW. Geothermal capacity increased by 27% of baseload renewable heating, cooling and electricity. The IEA tell us the EU needs at least 60 GW of solar PV this year to compensate for shortfalls in Russian gas5. The French Geothermal Action Plan, launched in February, can replace all Russian gas imports at pre-invasion levels6. Spain, Croatia and the Netherlands are all developing record size solar heat plants to supply industry and district heating networks, complementing more than 10 milion solar heat systems already installed in homes today. The direction of travel is there and a minimum 45% renewables target will reinforce the exponential market growth.
As representatives from across the economy, we are committed to supporting the energy transition to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Building on this commitment, we support a higher energy target for 2030, which is the only compatible pathway to a safe, sustainable and affordable energy. The industry is ready to deliver. The citizens are ready to play their part.
What is the difference between a 40% renewable target and 45% for Europe?
- A 45% target would cut gas imports in half, compared to 40%: from 236 bcm to 118 bcm1
- Reduced gas imports means a saving of €200 billion between 2025 and 2030
- Scaling up renewables faster saves an additional €76 billion in energy systems costs1
- 45% prevents annual emissions from Europe by the equivalent of 455 metric tons of CO2 (equivalent to the annual emissions of France)
1 LUT University, 2020. 100% Renewable Europe
2 CE Delft, 2016, The potential of energy citizens in the European Union https://cedelft.eu/publications/the- potential-of-energy-citizens-in-the-european-union/
3 SolarPower Europe, 2022, EU Solar Jobs Report
4 International Energy Agency, 2023, Energy Technology Perspectives
5 International Energy Agency, 2023, How to avoid gas shortages in the European Union in 2023
6 Gouverment of the Republic of France, 2023, Geothermie: Un plan d’action pour accelerer