December 18, 2017 / 9:27 PM / 6 months ago

EU governments agree renewable energy targets for 2030

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union environment and energy ministers on Monday agreed renewable energy targets for 2030 ahead of negotiations next year with the European Parliament, which has called for more ambitious green energy goals.

European Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete holds a news conference on mobility and climate change package at the EC headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 8, 2017. Reuters/Eric Vidal

Ministers said they would aim to source at least 27 percent of the bloc’s energy from renewables by 2030, up from a target of 20 percent by 2020.

In October, the European Parliament called for this target to be increased to 35 percent, a level also put forward by a group of big technology, industry and power companies last week.

As part of the package of measures, ministers also agreed on the share of renewable fuels to be used in transport, while setting a cap on first-generation biofuels, which critics say compete for agricultural land with food.

EU member states set a 14 percent renewables target for fuels used in road transport by 2030, with bonuses given for the use of renewable electricity in road and rail transport.

The inclusion of rail into the renewable transport targets was criticized by the European Commission, as large parts of the European rail network are already electrified.

“The level of ambition is clearly insufficient,” Europe’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told ministers during negotiations.

Canete added that with falling prices for renewables, the EU could reach a target of 30 percent of renewables with similar costs as had been previously estimated for the 27 percent.

“The reduction of costs in renewables has been spectacular, whether it is in solar energy or wind power,” Canete told a press conference after the meeting.

The European Council and the European Parliament will need to find a compromise in talks over the final legal texts on these matters next year.

The EU’s renewables targets are part of a set of proposals to implement the bloc’s climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, in the wake of the Paris Agreement to limit further global warming to no more than 2 degrees.

Ministers also reached a common position on a set of rules for the internal electricity market, such as the roll-out of more sophisticated electricity meters to consumers and allowing grid operators to run energy storage facilities.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Catherine Evans and James Dalgleish

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