Building energy independence whilst moving towards a low-carbon economy and combating climate change – this is just one of the major challenges facing European politicians today. While energy prices in Europe are breaking new records, the diversification of supplies of low-emission fuels, such as natural gas, cannot be achieved overnight. Some states (including Poland) are therefore beginning to look more openly to coal, and this may mean squandering the achievements made to date in obtaining clean energy.
The European Commission has also been looking for a way out of this impasse for some weeks, and is set to publish detailed conclusions of its work together with a set of proposed solutions next week. Instead of passively waiting for the existing natural gas sources and supply chains to change, or giving up the battle for green energy and reverting to coal, it has been decided that the best course would be to intensify support for RES investment.
The Commission’s proposals, which are expected to be published as an official communication on 18 May 2022, are to include new increased RES target shares in Member State energy mixes. This has been expected, as the Commission signalled already in March that it would be necessary to consider raising or bringing forward the deadline for achieving RES targets.
To meet these new stringent requirements, the measures that Member States would have at their disposal are to include, among other things, new permit-granting rules and photovoltaic strategies. According to information on the Commission’s plans, this is seen as a great opportunity to meet all three challenges facing the EU today: energy independence, carbon efficiency and lower energy prices. The strategy is to be based on four pillars:
- The European Solar Rooftops Initiative – integrating the installation of PV panels with roof renovation, imposing an obligation by 2025 to place PV panels on the roofs of all buildings owned by public entities (where technically feasible), and supporting the creation of a RES prosumer community at local government level. The idea of mandatory installation of PV panels for all new construction projects is also still under discussion;
- The EU Skills Partnership – providing skilled labour for the RES sector;
- The European Solar Industry Alliance – a new programme launched by the European Commission to support the creation of supply chains based on locally produced components;
- New guidelines addressed to Member States to ease administrative burdens, red tape and waiting times for all approvals and permits necessary to start producing green energy; Member States will also be required to identify potential onshore and offshore sites for renewable energy production to assist investors complying with all formalities. RES projects are also to be given the status of public purpose investments, which is expected to further streamline administrative procedures.
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