The European Commission (EC) has set a 2030 renewable energy target of 27% at EU level, but this will not be binding for individual countries.
The previous 2020 target of 20% was mandatory for member states.
The UK’s Renewable Energy Association (REA) and Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) have been left disappointed at the announcement. Both organisations back mandatory targets in order to boost market confidence.
President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, announced the new long-term direction for EU energy policies on 22 January.
He proposed a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to a 1990 baseline.
He also put forward a renewable energy target of at least 27%, which is binding only at an EU level. This would act as a ‘function’ of the 40% greenhouse gas emissions target.
But he said: “We propose not to set binding national targets.”
Instead, the proposal states that “attainment of the EU renewables target would be ensured by the new governance system based on national energy plans”.
Barroso said member states are free to set their own national renewable goals.
He claimed the new targets were “ambitious” and “affordable” and would aid investors looking into the energy market.
He added that energy efficiency is to play a vital role in the framework, but no specific target has been set.
An EC statement said: “Supported by a detailed analysis on energy prices and costs, the 2030 framework will ensure regulatory certainty for investors and a co-ordinated approach among member states, leading to the development of new technologies.”
But the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said the targets “lacked ambition”. The REA supports mandatory targets for EU member states in order to send clear messages about Government ambition in renewables.
The association said binding 2020 targets had been critical to recent growth in the sector.
It claimed binding targets were particularly effective when negative rhetoric from ministers had damaged market confidence in the UK.
It said a lack of obligation would give “limited impetus” for renewables expansion in the UK.
REA chief executive, Dr Nina Skorupska (left), said: “Experience shows that binding renewables targets do two things. First, they give a major long-term boost to investor confidence, helping accelerate market growth and technology cost reduction.
“Second, politics frequently trumps economics in the real world, and when politicians go wobbly on renewables, the targets help keep investment flowing.”
Charlotte Morton (left), chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) echoed Skorupska’s comments on the success of binding targets.
She said: “More ambition on renewable energy would give a further boost to sectors such as anaerobic digestion.”
She added that the EC proposals were “a tremendous opportunity for the UK to set its own binding targets for renewable energy, to give our industry the opportunity to develop skills and technology and export to emerging markets”.
Shlomo Dowen, national co-ordinator of campaign group UK WIN said: “We simply cannot burn our way out of climate change, especially when doing so destroys valuable resources that should be recycled, composted or anaerobically digested.”