Major utilities urge EU to do more for renewable power

The heads of some of Europe’s top power utilities believe Brussels is showing a lack of ambition in developing renewable energy.

Chiefs from Iberdrola, Enel, EnBW, EDP, Orsted and SSE are among those wanting more aggressive targets for renewables, and have published a declaration in advance of a key conference in Bonn, Germany.

Negotiators have gathered at that meeting to discuss the latest international response in tackling global warming. A proposed target for renewables to meet 27 per cent of EU energy consumption by 2030, up from 16.7 per cent in 2015, “lacks ambition and would slow down the current rate of renewables deployment” in Europe, the companies said.
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The utilities collectively call for an EU-wide binding target for 35 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Such a target was needed, the companies said, to “restore the EU’s global leadership” in green energy and to preserve efficiency gains, which had made renewables “the most competitive option for new power generation in Europe”.

The EU is having difficulty in producing a coherent approach from its member states to meeting its carbon reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement. While western European states are broadly in favour of stronger commitment, central European states don’t share the enthusiasm. Coal-fired power in those regions remains strong and there is also resistance to proposed reforms of the EU emissions trading system.

The reforms aim at increasing the price paid by power stations and factories for the carbon dioxide they put into the atmosphere. The EU wants a deal to finalize its climate commitments during the Bonn talks, which started on Monday and runs for two weeks.

Ignacio Galàƒ¡n, chairman of Iberdrola, said a “transparent and predictable European policy framework” was essential to drive further investment in renewables. Dave Jones, analyst at Sandbag, the climate think-tank, told the FT that western European utilities were increasingly seeing fossil fuel power generation as a back-up to renewables.

“They are recognising that, while fossil fuels still have a role to play during the transition, that role is limited in its intensity and its timespan.”

Meanwhile Eurelectric, Europe’s power sector trade body is urging theà‚ European Commission to propose that car manufacturers produce a specific share of clean emission vehicles by 2025 in draft legislation expected on Wednesday.

“We would like to see clear measures in both the public and private sector” to support lower emission vehicles, as this would help create demand for electric vehicles, Eurelectric’s secretary general Kristian Ruby told Platts in an interview.

“Our analysis shows that if you were to shift all personal vehicles to run on electricity, that would increase power demand by about 10%, which the grid can easily handle,” he said.

There could also be added benefits from charging the cars at night in parts of Europe with high nighttime wind power output, Ruby said.

“We are creating a system able to cope with large amounts of variable renewables,” he said. “Electric cars could eventually become a storage option as part of that.”à‚ à‚ 

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