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EU to boost solar and renewables rollout to cut Russian gas

On top of the investment foreseen under previous climate legislations, an additional €26 bln will be needed for solar energy investment between now and 2027, according to commission estimates

EU to boost solar and renewables rollout to cut Russian gas

Brussels, May 19 - Neftegaz.RU. Plans to massively increase solar energy and accelerate the rollout of big EU renewable projects, in the wake of Russia's invasion on Ukraine, were unveiled by the EU Commission on 18 May, EUobserver has reported.

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
The EU executive proposal will increase the target for renewable energies from 40 % to 45 % by 2030, and for energy efficiency from nine to 13 %.

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.
Timmermans said:
  • 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
To replace Russian gas, the commission also wants to boost biomethane, which has similar properties to gas and increase the production and imports of renewable hydrogen - reaching 10m tonnes of domestic production and 10m tonnes of imports by 2030.

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
Goyens said long and bureaucratic permits for solar panels, heat pumps or home renovations discourage consumers from investing in energy-efficient solutions on many occasions.
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.

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