Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Renewable Energy Institute
Romain Zissler, Senior Researcher, Renewable Energy Institute
Dramatic industrial and market progress of renewable energy (RE), particularly in the power sector, led European Union (EU) policy makers to set more ambitious goal.
Renewable electricity has become a low-cost option in Europe. Despite moderate solar or wind resources, skills developed by the manufacturers and installers in Europe have resulted in cheap renewable energy. Even off-shore wind power is in some cases off the coasts of Germany and the Netherlands offered by energy companies without asking for any subsidies.
Electricity prices on the European power exchanges are around 5 yen per kWh for the years ahead, varying from 3,5-7 in different EU countries.
These developments have forced major European power companies to completely reshape their power plant portfolios. Since E.ON announced its spin-off at the end of 2014, EDF, Enel, ENGIE, RWE, Iberdrola, Vattenfall, EDP and their peers have closed or sold well over 50 gigawatts of fossil power capacity in Europe and added gigawatts of wind and solar to their portfolios instead.
The politicians in the EU have seen and reacted to this industrial and market progress. They also see the economic benefits as renewable energy reduces Europe’s dependence on imported polluting and dangerous fossil fuels and uranium. As a result, they decided on 14 June 2018 to increase the target for renewable energy in the EU energy mix to 32% by 2030, instead of 27% previously planned and from 20% by 2020. That is roughly an impressive doubling from the 17% share in 2016. However, as the governments and parliamentarians are expecting further development they decided that in 2023 if industrial progress continues they may revise the target upwards.
As this target is for all energy, and the transport sector is still more expensive to supply with renewable energy (only 7% in 2016), the share of renewable energy in the electricity sector is going to be much higher than 32% by 2030 – a share which is already well within reach this year. At least 50%, one may thus conclude.