Renewable heating and cooling: 2020-30 must not be a lost decade

Material supplied by Nathalie Hemeleers, Policy Advisor, European Biomass Association. E-mail:


n November, 2016, the Euro- pean Commission released a long-awaited legislative pack- age entitled ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ to set the scene for EU energy policy between 2020 and 2030. The package includes, among others, legislation on renewable energy (RES Directive) and energy effi ciency (EE Directive). According to the AEBIOM 2016 statistical report, 73% of the whole biomass consumed in Eu- rope is going to the heating sector and 88% of renewables con- sumed in this sector is biomass. Therefore, bioenergy has the potential to be a front-runner in the decarbonisation of the heat- ing and cooling sector (H&C). That is why it is essential to understand what the European Commission’s package specifi cally proposes for bioenergy in its coverage of the H&C sector.

First of all, I think that it is essen- tial to highlight and welcome the fi rst-ever provisions on H&C in the RES Directive (Article 23 and 24),

Nathalie Hemeleers.

fi nally bringing attention to the decarbonisation of this sector that represents 50% of Europe’s energy consumption and 38% of its CO2 emissions. Until now, energy poli- cies had been mostly focusing on the electricity sector, neglecting to address the more complex and decentralised H&C sector. However, acknowledgment does not necessarily mean ambition! In fact, while the European Commission foresees a 49% share

of renewables in the electricity sec- tor by 2030, the forecasted share in the H&C sector is only 27%. This is, of course, insuffi cient to decarbonise the largest segment of our energy system – in the Commission’s scenario, this would still represent 40% of the fi nal energy consumption in 2030 (with electricity representing 28%). In absolute terms, these fore- casts send a negative signal to the industry. The Commission has modelled a mere 5 Mtoe increase of renewables in H&C produc- tion between 2020 and 2030. This is much less than what was developed between 2004 and 2014, when mostly biomass (and some solar thermal, geothermal and aerothermal energy) delivered 26 Mtoe of additional renewable energy.

Where is the EU’s ambition when it asks its own renewables industry to do fi ve times less in the future than what it has achieved in the past?

The proposal for a revised RES

Directive contains attempts (Article 23) to increase the share of RES in the H&C with a recommendation to Member States to increase their share by 1 pp per year. This steers the EU energy policy in the right direction, but once again, more ambition is crucial. In order to avoid a lost decade for renewable H&C in Europe, at least the same level of development will be neces- sary, meaning an additional 26 Mtoe increase by 2030. This provision should also go further than a simple recommen- dation and be made mandatory for all Member States. Such an approach will be instrumental in supporting investment in the bioenergy sector and encouraging growth in biomass consumption. Commitments made in Paris will not be fulfi lled without effectively tackling the H&C sector. The RES Directive proposes half a solution, but more efforts are needed for the EU to become, as proposed by President Juncker, number one in renewables.


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2018 28 February – 2 March 2018, WELS / AUSTRIA

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