EU plans to drop state renewable energy goals

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte has insisted that the State’s commitment to renewable energy remains on track, despite yesterday’s proposal by the European Commissionto abandon mandatory renewable targets for member states after 2020.

The European Commission’s long-awaited climate and energy package published yesterday removed an obligation on countries to adhere to country-specific renewable energy targets for 2030, though it backed a 27 per cent overall target for the EU.

This will give countries “flexibility” on how to contribute to the EU’s renewable targets based on national energy plans that will be worked out between member states and the European Union.

The new proposal – which could still be subject to substantial changes as it makes its way through the EU legislative system – replaces current EU legislation which stipulates that 20 per cent of all EU energy consumption must come from renewable sources by 2020, with specific targets set out for member states.

While European Commission officials pointed out that no mandatory legislative targets were envisaged at this stage, Mr Rabbitte pointed out that targets had not been ruled out, and that the proposal must now be discussed by member states, with EU leaders scheduled to discuss the issue in March.

He added that the package has no impact on Ireland’s renewable targets before 2020.

“For Ireland it makes sense to reduce import costs and to use resources that are renewable and indigenous to Ireland,” he said, pointing out that the State’s annual import bill for fossil fuels is more than €6 billion.