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11/12/2016

Private sector pushes for better EU renewable energy legislation

Energy

Private sector pushes for better EU renewable energy legislation

The report calls for renewable energy to become the default, with consumers having to opt in to fossil fuel tariffs.

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After leaked documents revealing renewable energy will no longer be a top priority in the EU’s new winter package, major corporations including Google, Unilever and IKEA have backed a call for improvements to the forthcoming package.

The European Commission should improve its upcoming piece of energy legislation, giving priority to renewable energies, a group of big corporations insisted ahead of the publication of the “clean energy for all” legislative proposals, expected on 30 November.

The leaked proposal, published by EurActiv.fr, includes plans to push European consumers themselves to become the energy producers of the future. In a report carried out by the think tank E3G, theRE100 initiative backed by private companies called for EU energy policy to help businesses go 100% renewable.

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Made up of businesses that aim to increase demand for renewable energy and accelerate the global consumer-led energy transition, the RE100 initiative was launched in 2014 at the UN climate summit in New York.

It started as a group of 13 international privates companies committed to reaching a 100% renewable energy target. Since then, the coalition has grown to 83 companies, including, BT, Google, IKEA, Nestle, Royal DSM and Unilever, all of which have operations in Europe.

Against the backdrop of the COP22 in Marrakesh, businesses have united for the first time to support recommendations on the forthcoming European package.

“As more and more leading businesses actively look to source 100% renewable energy, we need a Renewable Energy Directive that supports, not holds back these ambitions,” said Thomas Lingard, the climate advocacy and sustainability strategy director at Unilever.

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“Renewable energy is the future and if the European Union wants to retain its competitive edge it must unleash its potential before it’s too late. That means making it cheap and easy to procure renewable electricity to empower its energy consumers,” said Simon Skillings, the author of the report and a senior associate at E3G.

In the report, entitled “Consumer-led energy transition”, the RE100 members make a number of recommendations to scale up the impact of the next legislative package in the European renewable energy market.

2030 EU target

The report states that “renewables have much lower price volatility than fossil fuelled alternatives, allowing much greater control of a key business cost”. But the current situation of the European market means a 100% renewable electrical supply is more difficult to achieve than a mix of renewable and non-renewable sources.

To push the energy system towards 100% renewables, the report calls for the 2020 targets for the share of renewable energy defined in the Renewable Energy Directive to “constitute the minimum baseline for the contribution of member states to the 2030 EU target”.

The EU’s current target for renewable energy production is 27%. This is not binding at national level, but only at the EU level.

Priority dispatch

Alongside a call for effort sharing between member states, the report also argues that “priority dispatch for renewable generators should be maintained, or, alternatively, that member states put in place other effective processes to avoid unnecessary curtailment of renewable generation”.

Finally, the report demands a “certification scheme for non-renewable electricity”. This labelling technique should “enable the sale of renewable electricity to become the ‘default’ option for consumers”, with those wishing to purchase non-renewable electricity having to actively opt in.

“Whether companies purchase renewable electricity or want to generate renewable power themselves, we are all looking to EU policy to support us in reaching our target of 100% renewable power. Legislative frameworks are needed to allow more businesses, and consumers, to invest in renewables,” said John Harris, the investment manager for renewable energy at  IKEA.