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Renewable energy directive

Directive 2009/28/EC, revised in 2018, has been proposed for a second revision to align it with the EU’s increased climate ambition.

The Renewable Energy Directive is the legal framework for the development of renewable energy across all sectors of the EU economy. It establishes common principles and rules to remove barriers, stimulate investments and drive cost reductions in renewable energy technologies, and empowers citizens, consumers and businesses to participate in the clean energy transformation.

Revision of the directive

The Commission proposed a revision of the directive in July 2021, as part of the package to deliver on the European Green Deal. The proposal raises the ambition of the existing legislation to align it with EU’s increased climate ambition. It also seeks to introduce new measures to complement the already existing building blocks established by the 2009 and 2018 directives, to ensure that all potentials for the development of renewable energy are optimally exploited – which is the necessary condition to achieve the EU's objective of climate neutrality by 2050.

The proposed revision aims to ensure that renewable energy fully contributes to achieving a higher EU climate ambition for 2030, in line with the 2030 Climate Target Plan. It seeks to convert into EU law some of the concepts outlined in the energy system integration and hydrogen strategies, published in 2020. The 2 strategies outlined ways of creating an integrated energy system, based on renewable energy and fit for climate neutrality, and turning hydrogen into a viable solution to help reach the objectives of the European Green Deal.

In line with the EU Climate Law, the targets and measures set in the revised directive should be ambitious enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% in 2030. This includes raising the overall renewables target (proposed to be increased to 40%), but also strengthened measures for transport or heating and cooling. The Commission is also aiming at a more energy efficient and circular energy system that facilitates renewables-based electrification, and promotes the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen, in sectors where electrification is not yet a feasible option, such as transport.

The revision process

  • On 21 July 2021, the Commission presented a proposal for a revised directive, as part of the package to deliver on the European Green Deal.
  • The proposed revision of the directive is now being considered by the Council and the European Parliament. The adoption is expected by end of 2022.
  • As a first step in the revision process, the Commission published a roadmap in August 2020. The feedback received from stakeholders and the public on the contributed to the Commission’s preparatory work for the review.
  • public consultation was launched in 2020 and a short summary was published in March 2021. In addition, 2 stakeholder meetings were organised in December 2020 and in March 2021 to gather input from stakeholders.

Directive 2018/2001/EU

In December 2018, the recast Renewable Energy Directive 2018/2001/EU entered into force, as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, aimed at keeping the EU a global leader in renewables and, more broadly, helping the EU to meet its emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Building on the 20% target for 2020, it established a new binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of at least 32%, with a clause for a possible upwards revision by 2023, and comprises measures for the different sectors to make it happen. This included in particular new provisions to enable citizens to play an active role in the development of renewables - enabling renewable energy communities and self-consumption of renewable energy, an increased 14 % target for the share of renewable fuels in transport by 2030 and strengthened criteria for ensuring bioenergy sustainability.

Timeline for renewable energy in the EU

  1. 2022
    REPowerEU Plan: EC proposal to raise target for 2030 to 45%
  2. 2021
    Renewable Energy Directive: EC proposal to raise target for 2030 to 40% 
  3. 2019
    EU power production from wind and solar surpass coal for the first time 
  4. 2018
    Revised Renewable Energy Directive: 32% renewables target for 2030 
  5. 2014
    Onshore wind is cheap­er than coal, gas and nuclear energy 
  6. 2009
    Renewable Energy Directive: EU target of 20% renewables by 2020 and national binding targets 
  7. 2008
    Olmedilla Photovoltaic park (Spain) - largest power plant (60MW) in the world - generates enough to power 40 000 homes/year
  8. 2003
    Directive on biofuels and renewable fuels for transport: national tar­gets for biofuels
  9. 2001
    Directive on electricity production from renewables: national indicative targets
  10. 2000
    First large-scale offshore wind farm (Denmark)
  11. 1997
    Energy for the future: renewable sources of energy: indicative EU target of 12% renewables by 2010
  12. 1991
    Germany introduces first feed-in-tarif for renewables