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Renewable energy

Renewable energy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Renewable energy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Renewable energy

Renewable energy

Renewable sources of energy – wind power, solar power (thermal and photovoltaic), hydro-electric power, tidal power, geothermal energy and biomass – are an essential alternative to fossil fuels. Using these sources helps not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation and consumption but also to reduce the European Union’s (EU) dependence on imports of fossil fuels (in particular oil and gas).
In order to reach the ambitious target of a 20% share of energy from renewable sources in the overall energy mix, the EU plans to focus efforts on the electricity, heating and cooling sectors and on biofuels. In transport, which is almost exclusively dependent on oil, the Commission hopes that the share of biofuels in overall fuel consumption will be 10% by 2020.

POLICY ORIENTATIONS

  • Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
  • Renewable Energy Road Map
  • “Intelligent Energy for Europe” programme (2003-2006)
  • The Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund
  • Renewable energy: the share of renewable energy in the EU in 2004

ELECTRICITY

  • Renewable energy: the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources
  • Support for electricity from renewable energy sources

HEATING AND COOLING

  • Biomass Action Plan

BIOFUELS

  • EU strategy for biofuels
  • Motor vehicles: use of biofuels

WIND ENERGY

  • Promotion of offshore wind energy

Biomass Action Plan

Biomass Action Plan

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Biomass Action Plan

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Tackling climate change

Biomass Action Plan

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 7 December 2005 – Biomass Action Plan [COM(2005) 628 final – Official Journal C 49 of 28.02.2005].

Summary

To cope with the increasing dependence on imported energy, the European Union (EU) must bring into play a new energy policy, the three main objectives of which are competitiveness, sustainable development and security of supply.

It is in this wider context of an integrated and coherent energy policy and, in particular, of promoting renewable energy sources that the Commission is presenting this Biomass Action Plan.

Biomass

Biomass, i.e. all organic plant and animal products used to produce energy (or in agriculture), currently accounts for around half (44 to 65%) of all renewable energy used in the EU.

Biomass currently meets 4% of the EU’s energy needs (69 million tonnes of oil equivalent (toe)). The aim is to increase biomass use to around 150 million toe by 2010.

An increase of this magnitude could bring such benefits as:

  • diversifying Europe’s energy supply;
  • significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions * (209 million tonnes);
  • direct employment for 250 to 300 000 people;
  • potentially lowering the price of oil as a result of lower demand.

It is important to note that these benefits can probably be obtained without additional pollution or other forms of environmental damage.

The predicted cost of expenditure linked to renewable energy is estimated at EUR 9 billion per year.

The Commission identifies three sectors in which biomass use should be prioritised, namely heat production, electricity production and transport.

Biomass for heating

Heating is without a doubt the sector which uses the most biomass, and does so simply and cheaply in terms of technology. However, paradoxically, biomass is growing slowest in this sector.

The Commission plans to use various measures to improve this situation, including:

  • adopting new specific legislation on renewable energy in heating;
  • amending the Directive on the energy performance of buildings;
  • carrying out a study of how to improve the performance of household biomass boilers and reduce pollution.

However, it appears that renewable fuels are more suited for use in district heating * than individual heating. Their use should therefore be promoted by making them more competitive, cost-effective and convenient to use.

Electricity from biomass

The Commission points out that there are many ways of generating electricity from renewable energy sources. Attention should focus on the Directive on electricity from renewable energy sources in this area.

Using biofuels in transport

As with electricity production, the transport sector is also governed by Community legislation in the form of the Directive on biofuels for transport.

In accordance with this Directive, the Commission plans to present a report in 2006 on the implementation of the Directive, with a view to a possible revision. It will address the issues of:

  • national targets for the market share of biofuels;
  • the obligation to use biofuels;
  • implementing a system to certify conformity with biofuels standards.

The Commission is set to put forward a legislative proposal for the vehicle market aimed at encouraging public procurement of clean vehicles. The future strategy on the car industry, which should be published in 2006, provides for various measures concerning:

  • the use of biofuels;
  • establishing tax incentives;
  • providing consumer information;
  • reducing congestion.

In terms of balancing domestic production and imports of biofuels, the Commission’s approach is to:

  • propose the amendment of standard EN14214 to facilitate the use of a wider range of vegetable oils for biodiesel *, to the extent feasible without significant ill-effects on fuel performance;
  • address the issue of amending the biofuels directive so that only biofuels whose cultivation complies with minimum sustainability standards count towards its targets;
  • maintain market access conditions for imported bioethanol * that are no less favourable than those provided by the trade agreements currently in force;
  • pursue a balanced approach in ongoing free trade agreement negotiations with ethanol-producing countries/regions;
  • support developing countries that wish to produce biofuels and develop their domestic markets;

In terms of standards, the Commission is currently re-examining two areas of the fuel quality directive;

  • impact on health and the environment;
  • impact on the achievement of the objectives in the biofuels directive and the cost of achieving them.

The Commission also plans to remove unjustified or discriminatory technical barriers to using biofuels.

Lastly, as Europe is better at producing bioethanol than biodiesel, the Commission will encourage the use of ethanol (in place of methanol *) to reduce demand for diesel.

Stimulating biomass supply

In terms of agriculture, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) introduced a special “aid for energy crops”. In 2006 the Commission will evaluate the implementation of this and, if necessary, will put forward proposals reflecting the Union’s objectives in terms of biofuels. In addition to this the Commission will fund an information campaign on the priorities for energy crops and the prospects for exploiting them.

Statistics for forestry * show that around 35% of the annual growth in EU forests remains unused. To address this, the Commission is currently preparing an action plan, which should be adopted in 2006. The plan will, in particular, examine the matter of generating electricity from wood. The Commission will also review the impact of the energy use of wood and wood residues on forest-based industries.

Waste is also an underused energy resource. For this reason the Commission is currently developing a thematic strategy on preventing and recycling waste, and is preparing a proposal on the revision of the waste framework legislation.

Animal by-products not destined for human consumption are increasingly being recovered for energy. Consequently, the Commission plans to review the regulatory framework governing such production processes, so that new sources of energy may be opened up while maintaining current levels of protection for public and animal health.

The Commission is also paying particular attention to the adoption of European standards for solid biomass fuels in order to facilitate trade, develop markets and increase consumer confidence. The European Committee for Standardisation is working to define these standards.

Regarding supply, a European trading floor for pellets and chips has been initiated with support from the EU Intelligent Energy for Europe programme (2003-2006). The Commission will also look at how the results can be improved, with a view to possibly establishing a Community-wide trading system.

Lastly, action plans making it easier to evaluate biomass at various levels (physical and economic availability, priorities for use, measures to be taken, etc.) are encouraged by the Commission both at national and regional level.

Financing biomass

Supporting the development of renewable and alternative energy sources is a key objective for the structural and cohesion funds. The EU and the Member States must therefore promote the development of renewable energy sources through regional policy.

The Commission also points out that support for biomass production and use must comply with Community state aid policy.

Biomass and research

The Commission’s proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme gives a high priority to biomass research.

The Commission plans in particular to look at how best to take forward research into the optimisation of agricultural and woody crops for energy purposes, and into conversion processes.

Lastly, through the Intelligent energy for Europe programme (2007-2013), the Commission will support the dissemination of techniques that reflect European objectives for renewable energy.

Background

This Biomass Action Plan is part of the new EU energy policy set out in the Green Paper on energy published in March 2006. Most of the recommendations it contains were supported by EU Heads of State or Government at the spring European Council of 23 and 24 March 2006. Developing safe, competitive and sustainable energy is therefore one of the EU’s priorities in relaunching the Lisbon Strategy.

Key terms used in the act
  • The main greenhouse gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide and ozone (O3).
  • District heating: collective heat distribution equipment for heat generated in the form of vapour or hot water by several production units.
  • Biodiesel: fuel obtained from vegetable or animal oil which has been transformed through a chemical process called transesterification.
  • Bioethanol: biofuel for use in petrol engines. Plants which contain saccharose (beetroots, sugar cane, etc.) or starch (wheat, maize, etc.) can be transformed to produce bioethanol. This is obtained by fermenting the sugar extract of sugary plants or by distilling starch from wheat or maize.
  • Methanol: methanol is also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol and its chemical formula is CH3OH. It is the simplest form of alcohol and is highly toxic. It is a light, volatile, transparent and inflammable liquid which is used as anti-freeze, a solvent, as fuel (in the North American Champcar world series since 1964), and to denature ethyl alcohol.
  • Forestry: this covers all practices by which goods are produced from forests in a reasonable and sustainable way.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – The Renewable Energy Progress Report: Commission Report in accordance with Article 3 of Directive 2001/77/EC, Article 4(2) of Directive 2003/30/EC, and on the implementation of the EU Biomass Action Plan, COM(2005) 628 [

COM(2009) 192

final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Report describes the progress made in the field of renewable energy. In the electricity sector, in particular, the renewable energy share has increased in some Member States. In addition, the transport sector has seen its renewable energy share increase by 1.6 points since 2004. In spite of this positive trend, the European Union is likely to fail to meet its 2010 renewable energy targets. It is therefore essential that the European Commission should continue to encourage Member States to apply the existing legislation and if necessary to initiate infringement proceedings in order to make further progress towards achieving these objectives.

Communication from the Commission of 19 October 2006 – Action Plan for Energy Efficiency: Realising the Potential [COM(2006) 545 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 26 May 2005 to the Council and the European Parliament, “The share of renewable energy in the EU” [COM(2004) 366 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Cogeneration

Cogeneration

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Cogeneration

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Energy efficiency

Cogeneration

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 on the promotion of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market and amending Directive 92/42/EEC [See amending act].

Summary

The principle of cogeneration

Cogeneration is a technique allowing the production of both heat and electricity. The heat is in the form of high pressure water vapour or hot water.

An electricity/heat cogeneration plant operates by means of gas turbines or engines. Natural gas is the form of primary energy most commonly used to fuel cogeneration plants. However, renewable energy sources and waste can also be used.

Unlike traditional power stations where exhaust gases are directly evacuated by the chimney, the gases produced by cogeneration are first cooled before being evacuated by the chimney, releasing their energy into a hot water/steam circuit.

Electricity/heat cogeneration installations can achieve energy efficiency levels of around 90 %. The development of cogeneration could avoid the emission of some 250 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

Promotion of cogeneration

The objective of this Directive is to establish a transparent common framework to promote and facilitate the installation of cogeneration plants. This overall objective comprises two specific aims:

  • in the short term, the Directive should make it possible to consolidate existing cogeneration installations and promote new plants;
  • in the medium to long term, the Directive should create the necessary framework for high efficiency cogeneration to reduce emissions of CO2 and other substances and to contribute to sustainable development.

There are already examples of regulatory developments in some Member States, such as Belgium (green certificates and cogeneration quotas), Spain (a decree on the sale of cogeneration electricity) or Germany (a law on cogeneration).

The Commission has established harmonised efficiency reference values for separate production of electricity and heat (see under “Related Acts”). Member States must ensure, on the basis of the harmonised efficiency reference values and within six months of their adoption, that the origin of electricity produced from high-efficiency cogeneration can be guaranteed according to objective, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria laid down by each Member State.

Member States must ensure that the guarantee of origin of the electricity enables producers to demonstrate that the electricity they sell is produced from high-efficiency cogeneration.

A guarantee of origin must:

  • specify the lower calorific value of the fuel source from which the electricity was produced, specify the use of the heat generated together with the electricity and the dates and places of production;
  • specify the quantity of electricity from high-efficiency cogeneration that the guarantee represents (this quantity being calculated in accordance with Annex II);
  • specify the primary energy savings calculated in accordance with Annex III based on harmonised efficiency reference values established by the Commission.

Member States must analyse the national potential for the application of high-efficiency cogeneration.

Background

Cogeneration saves energy and improves security of supply. However, there is still considerable unexploited potential for cogeneration in the Member States. Moreover cogeneration would make it possible to:

  • reduces losses on the electrical grid because cogeneration installations are usually closer to the consumption point;
  • increase competition among electricity producers;
  • set up new enterprises;
  • save energy in isolated or extremely remote areas.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2004/8/EC

21.2.2004

21.2.2006

OJ L 52 of 21.2.2004

Amending act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 219/2009

20.4.2009

OJ L 87 of 31.3.2009

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2004/8/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated versionis for information only.

Related Acts

Proposal for a Directive

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 2011 on energy efficiency and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC [COM(2011) 370 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The European Commission has set itself the overall objective of reducing energy consumption by 20 % by 2020. To that end, it proposes a new energy efficiency strategy which follows on from its Energy Efficiency Plan 2011. This Proposal for a Directive includes elements of that Plan with a view to making them legally binding.
It also proposes to repeal Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC insofar as they no longer make it possible to tap energy saving potential to the full.

Communication

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council –Europe can save more energy by combined heat and power generation [COM(2008) 771 final – Not published in the Official Journal officiel].
The European Commission reports on the application of Directive 2004/8/EC in the Member States. 22 Member States have partially transposed the Directive and published reports on their cogeneration potential, and on the administrative changes that have been implemented. 11 Member States have communicated an analysis of their national potential.
The Commission underlines the obstacles impeding the development of cogeneration and states that further efforts are still required. It therefore invites Member States to apply the Directive as a matter of urgency. Infringement procedures could be implemented if this is not the case.

Directives

Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings [Official Journal L 153 of 18.6.2010].

Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market [Official Journal L 283 of 27.10.2001].

Council Directive 92/42/EEC of 21 May 1992 on efficiency requirements for new hot-water boilers fired with liquid or gaseous fuels [Official Journal L 167 of 22.6.1992].

Decisions

Commission Decision 2007/74/EC of 21 December 2006 establishing harmonised efficiency reference values for separate production of electricity and heat in application of Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 32 of 6 February 2007].

Commission Decision 2008/952/EC of 19 November 2008, establishing detailed guidelines for the implementation and application of Annex II to Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 338 of 17 December 2008].

Energy performance of buildings

Energy performance of buildings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Energy performance of buildings

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Energy efficiency

Energy performance of buildings

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings.

Summary

This Directive aims to promote the energy performance of buildings * and building units.

Methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings

Member States shall adopt, either at national or regional level, a methodology for calculating the energy performance of buildings which takes into account certain elements, specifically:

  • the thermal characteristics of a building (thermal capacity, insulation, etc.);
  • heating insulation and hot water supply;
  • the air-conditioning installation;
  • the built-in lighting installation;
  • indoor climatic conditions.

The positive influence of other aspects such as local solar exposure, natural lighting, electricity produced by cogeneration and district or block heating or cooling systems are also taken into account.

Setting minimum requirements

Member States shall put in place, in compliance with the aforementioned calculation methodology, minimum requirements for energy performance in order to achieve cost-optimal levels. The level of these requirements is reviewed every 5 years.

When setting requirements, Member States may differentiate between new and existing buildings and between different categories of buildings.

New buildings shall comply with these requirements and undergo a feasibility study before construction starts, looking at the installation of renewable energy supply systems, heat pumps, district or block heating or cooling systems and cogeneration systems.

When undergoing major renovation, existing buildings shall have their energy performance upgraded so that they also satisfy the minimum requirements.

The following may be exempt from the application of the minimum requirements:

  • officially protected buildings (for example, historic buildings);
  • buildings used as places of worship;
  • temporary buildings;
  • residential buildings intended for a limited annual time of use;
  • stand-alone buildings with a total useful floor area of less than 50 m2.

When new, replaced or upgraded technical building systems such as heating systems, hot water systems, air-conditioning systems and large ventilation systems are installed, they shall also comply with the energy performance requirements.

Building elements that form part of the building envelope and have a significant impact on the energy performance of that envelope (for example, window frames) shall also meet the minimum energy performance requirements when they are replaced or retrofitted, with a view to achieving cost-optimal levels.

This Directive strongly encourages the introduction of intelligent energy consumption metering systems whenever a building is constructed or undergoes renovation, pursuant to the Directive concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity.

Objective: Nearly zero-energy buildings

By 31 December 2020, all new buildings shall be nearly zero-energy consumption buildings. New buildings occupied and owned by public authorities shall comply with the same criteria by 31 December 2018.

The Commission encourages increasing the numbers of this type of building by putting in place national plans, which include:

  • the Member State’s application in practice of the definition of nearly zero-energy buildings;
  • the intermediate targets for improving the energy performance of new buildings by 2015;
  • information on the policies and financial measures adopted to encourage improving the energy performance of buildings.

Financial incentives and market barriers

Member States shall draw up a list of the existing and potential instruments used to promote improvements in the energy performance of buildings. This list is to be updated every three years.

Energy performance certificates

Member States shall implement a system for the energy performance certification of buildings. It shall include information on the energy performance of a building and recommendations for cost improvements.

When a building or building unit is offered for sale or for rent, the energy performance indicator of the energy performance certificate shall be included in advertisements in commercial media.

When buildings or building units are constructed, sold or rented out, the certificate is to be shown to the new tenant or prospective buyer and handed over to the buyer or new tenant.

With regard to buildings where a total floor area of over 500 m² is occupied by a public authority and buildings with a total floor area of over 500 m² which are frequently visited by the public, the energy performance certificate shall be displayed in a prominent place and be clearly visible (this threshold shall be lowered to 250 m² on 9 July 2015).

Member States are responsible for putting in place a system of regular inspections of heating and air-conditioning systems in buildings.

This Directive repeals Directive 2002/91/EC.

Key terms of the Act
  • Energy performance of a building: the calculated or measured amount of energy needed to meet the energy demand associated with a typical use of the building, which includes energy used for heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water and lighting.

Reference

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2010/31/EU

8.7.2010

9.7.2012

OJ L 153 of 18.6.2010