Agreement on the European Union Renewable Energy Directive has paved the way for significant expansion of combined heat and power.

The boost is expected to come as part of the economic bloc’s plans to achieve a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, part of the so-called 20:20:20 plan. The deal, between the European Parliament, the French Presidency on behalf of the Council and the European Commission has been welcomed by the renewable energy and environmental sector.

Under the terms of the Directive, for the first time each Member State has a legally binding renewables target for 2020 and by June 2010 each state will have drawn up a National Action Plan (NAP) detailing plans to meet their 2020 targets. Member states will report on progress every two years.

European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) president Arthouros Zervos noted: ‘At a time when international climate negotiations are ongoing, the European Union gives a strong signal to other countries worldwide. I am confident that this piece of legislation will inspire other parts of the world to help us achieve a sustainable energy future.’