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EU renewables debate puts co-firing in spotlight

July 3, London, UK - Many EU countries are against increasing the renewable share in Europe's energy mix above 20pc by 2020, and some members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are concerned that it would lead to a rise in “short-term renewable generation” such as biomass co-firing.


July 3, 2012
By Argus Media

EU statistics agency Eurostat estimates that renewable energy reached 12.4pc of gross final energy consumption in the 27 EU countries, according to its latest data. This compares with 11.7pc in 2009 and 10.5pc in 2008.

The 2009 renewables directive sets a general target of 20pc for the EU, with specific targets for all member states. The Eurostat figures show that Sweden (49pc by 2020), Estonia (25pc) and Romania (24pc) have reached, or even surpassed, their 2020 targets. Luxembourg (11pc), Malta (10pc), Netherlands (14pc) and the UK (15pc) have far to go.

There is no appetite among member states to increase levels despite some countries already meeting their targets, MEP Kent Johansson, who is on the energy and industry committee, said at the European biomass association AEBIOM's conference in Brussels this week. “Some participants can easily reach their 2020 targets but talks about increasing it have been received with opposition from many member states who do not want it,” Johansson said.

Dutch green party MEP Bas Eickhout remains wary about increasing the targets and said the focus must be beyond 2020. “We need to build a roadmap beyond 2020,” Eickhout said. “The focus cannot just be on reaching the target by using short-term renewable options. I would be wary of increasing the targets with the likelihood that member states would use inefficient co-firing and short term renewables to meet the targets.”

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There have been contrasting views from the market on the issue of raising the targets. A coalition consisting of industry trade bodies from the steel, chemicals and cement sectors insists that the 2020 targets should remain unchanged and not adjusted to accommodate the EU's low-carbon roadmap to 2050.

But a separate coalition of some of the largest companies in the EU said greenhouse gas reduction targets should be increased to at least 25pc by 2020. The EU must introduce new policies to make sure it meets its goal of improving energy efficiency by a fifth by 2020 to meet the higher target, the consortium, comprising corporate giants such as Shell, Nestle, Philips, Renault-Nissan and Deutsche Telekom, said.

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