Wednesday, January 22, 2014

EU backs off rigid renewable targets

The EU is dialing back on rigid, county-by-country targets for renewable energy:
Tempering its environmental ambitions in the face of harsh economic realities, the European Union on Wednesday proposed an end to binding national targets for renewable energy production while aiming for an overall cut of 40 percent in Europe’s carbon emissions by 2030.

Under the plans, outlined after tough internal negotiations, country-by country targets for renewable energy would be replaced by an overall objective for Europe, which would aim to increase the proportion of its energy provided by renewables to 27 percent.
I think this is a good move, climate-wise. It gets the focus back to GHG emissions rather than mandating a particular route to get there.

The old renewable targets, while expensive, have provided some obvious benefits in maturing these technologies and expanding the renewable energy sector:

Obviously in the long run it is not a natural situation for Spain, population 47 million, to have a tenth of the world's installed solar capacity, or Germany, population 81 million, to have over a third of it. Two-thirds of the world's installed PV (1) is found in just a few countries in the EU; obviously the hard targets played a big role in that. Subsidies have driven innovation and adoption; appropriate infrastructure (a smart grid with an HVDC backbone), utility reform (ultra-local power companies with profits set by law are unlikely to nimbly respond to market incentives) and a realistic carbon price are all that's needed for renewables to truly explode in the US.


1. In 2010; obviously the situation is changing rapidly.