Under the REPower initiative, Europe aims to end its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027.
For that, the EU has acknowledged the need to reduce energy consumption in the bloc and scale-up renewable energy massively.
EU climate chief Frans Timmermans told a press conference:
- If we can actually reduce our energy consumption in combination with a speedier introduction of renewables, we will bring down our emissions even quicker than before
Under a new dedicated solar strategy, the EU aims to double solar capacity in the EU by 2025 and install 600 GW by 2030 by reducing permitting procedures to a maximum of 3 months, stepping up investments, and making installations of solar panels compulsory for new public buildings as of 2026 and for new residential buildings as of 2029.
Nevertheless, a skills gap has emerged in Europe as the solar industry grows exponentially and EU member states have been invited to develop training programmes, taking into account female participation.
Businesses, for their part, are encouraged to sign more Power Purchase Agreements with solar energy projects to meet their electricity demands.
In addition, Brussels will also identify «go-to area»s for renewables projects in which permits will be simpler and faster.
This could potentially include agricultural land, the use of the surface of artificial lakes, or transport infrastructure like motorways.
- If it takes 9 to 10 years [to get a permit] for offshore or onshore wind, then we will never get to the levels we need to get in terms of renewable energy
Meanwhile, the commission has called on member states to launch energy-saving campaigns and use reduced VAT rates on energy-efficient heating systems, building insulation and appliances and products.
The head of the Brussels-based European Consumer Organisation Monique Goyens:
- More energy efficiency and renewables are the only way to go to tackle the climate crisis and reduce our dependence on expensive Russian gas… [but] consumers still face practical barriers
While the acceleration of renewables rollout was generally welcomed, the continued financing of fossil fuel infrastructure with taxpayers' money was criticised.
«Investments that are urgently needed for energy efficiency and renewables can still flow into new pipelines and terminals,» said Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout, arguing that this scenario might lock in fossil fuel dependencies for a longer time.