EU Sees Higher Climate Target Possible as Cost of Renewables Falls

Source: By Alissa de Carbonnel, Reuters • Posted: Friday, March 2, 2018

BRUSSELS — The falling cost of wind and solar power puts higher renewable energy targets within reach, according to a European Commission study seen by Reuters, pressuring EU legislators to set more ambitious climate goals.

Tough talks are now underway between EU nations and the European Parliament to set new targets for renewable energy’s share of the bloc’s overall energy use from 2021 to 2030.

EU lawmakers are pushing for renewables to account for at least a 35 percent share by 2030, while national governments agreed a target of 27 percent.

The new study by the EU executive, which updates 2016 policy cost projections, says lower costs together with other draft measures to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions could cut the cost of achieving a 27 percent target by 2.9 billion euros (2.57 billion pounds)a year.

The cost of reaching a 30 percent target in today’s market would be comparable to reaching a 27 percent target under estimates in the 2016 assessment.

“Such lower costs for the energy system are explained by lower investment needs for the same renewable electricity capacity,” the study says.

It foresees a transition to lower-emission technologies in the power, building and transport sectors to reach the bloc’s climate goals.

The draft measures are aimed at helping the European Union meet its overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, following the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees.

Environmental campaigners said legislators must take the new economic modelling into consideration.

“They should serve as a wake-up call,” said Jean-Francois Fauconnier of the Climate Action Network Europe lobby group.

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel @AdeCar; Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Susan Fenton)