The European Committee of the Regions:
advocates a flexible and balanced approach to the renewable energy objectives that encourages continuous development of technologies, provides certainty to investors while maintaining EU competitiveness and guaranteeing a sustainable and just transition;
stresses that it is paramount to ensure coherence among the legislative texts under the "Fit for 55" package, and that the “energy efficiency first principle” as well as of technological neutrality are upheld in order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 in the most sustainable and cost-effective manner;
insists that the Member States must transpose the REDII in the spirit intended;
underlines that renewable energy production often takes place at local and regional level and depends on regional SMEs; calls for the Member States to fully involve local and regional authorities in defining and implementing national climate measures, e. g. through Regionally and Locally Determined Contributions (LRDCs) as a complement to the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) established by the Paris Agreement;
regrets the decision not to amend the Article on Renewable Energy Communities in the light of the lessons learnt from the current transposition and the lack of new provisions to facilitate permitting, reduce administrative difficulties and other factors inhibiting grid access, and to enhance the deployment of technologies such as solar thermal and photovoltaic, hydropower, wind, and geothermal technologies;
stresses the need to fully encompass and benefit from the contributions of "prosumers", renewable energy communities and new technologies, such as energy storage, demand side response, micro-grids (possibly cross-border), electric mobility;
highlights the importance of the low and medium-voltage electricity grid, where the required infrastructure for a multitude of new, decentralised producers feeding electricity into the system must be created; underlines that there is also a need to connect new small-scale producers to the low and medium-voltage networks; calls on the Commission to provide a framework for the aggregation of several smaller projects, in order to allow them to meet the criteria under the current legislation. Flexibility in this regard is of high importance for Local and Regional Authorities to be able to set up certain aggregated projects and to potentially obtain financing for these efforts;
underlines the need to provide local and regional authorities with financial and technical assistance to enhance their capacity to attract and mobilise investments;
believes sustainable production of biomass is necessary to ensure environmental and biodiversity protection; stresses nonetheless that the introduction of new and more stringent criteria applying to all existing small scale biomass, heat and power installations would undermine the stability of the legal framework and have a huge social impact on vulnerable consumers, especially in rural areas, as well as on businesses, whose existing installations and planned investments cannot be neglected;
calls to unlock the potential of biomethane production in Europe as a way to urgently diversify and reduce the EU's dependence on Russian gas whilst stepping up on the ambition for the climate targets; supports the target to deliver the production of 35 billion cubic metres (bcm) of biomethane within the EU by 2030 as proposed by the REPowerEU plan;
advocates for a coordinated action between alternative fuel vehicle manufactures, alternative fuel producers and refuelling infrastructure providers, with a view to ensuring the decarbonisation of the transport sector;
sees a need to rephrase targets to combine waste heat and renewable energy on an equal footing, instead of formulating separate targets. Recovering waste heat from industry, data centers etc. should be a preferred activity when available, and not discriminated against to attain a stipulated share of renewables;
points out that upskilling through training programmes for installers and designers on renewable heating and cooling and storage technologies should be ensured by the competent authority in the Member States; targeted actions should be taken in the framework of the REPowerEU plan in close cooperation with national, regional and local authorities and in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity;
calls on the EU and the Member States to ramp up their investments in renewables and stresses the importance of local renewable energy production as a way to reduce the dependency on third countries for the import of fossil fuels and their associated high and volatile prices in line with the philosophy of REPowerEU;
calls for a coherent set of measures and investments underpinned by a joint, strong effort at all levels to eradicate energy poverty in the path towards a just climate neutral continent by 2050; building upon initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors and the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub;
recalls that renewable hydrogen should be the priority and low-carbon hydrogen could be used for decarbonisation purposes as a short term transitional solution until renewable hydrogen can play this role alone; calls therefore on the EU institutions, Member States and industry to ramp up renewable electricity and hydrogen capacity;
given the potential impact of this Regulation on local and regional authorities, the CoR underlines the importance of being informed by the co-legislators on all changes to the initial proposal at each stage of the legislative procedure, including trilogue negotiations, in line with the principle of sincere cooperation, thus allowing the CoR to properly discharge of its Treaty prerogatives (Article 91 TFEU);
On the 13th of July 2022 the ITRE committee voted on the draft RED II report. Already then a set of CoR proposals and references to local and regional authorities (LRAs) were included: references to Renewable Energy Communities and cooperation with LRAs; the need to facilitate permitting, reduce administrative barriers and other factors inhibiting grid access; involvement of LRAs in heating and cooling planning; and cross-border cooperation projects. The definition of "community battery" proposed by the CoR was included in the draft text.
The final text adopted on the 14th of September confirmed most of the proposals and more specifically:
• The target on the share of renewables is increased to 45% by 2030. The RED II strengthens multi-level governance, incorporating a CoR amendment; it recognises the role of LRAs in the transition to a climate-neutral economy, and calls on Member States to fully involve LRAs in the planning and implementation of national climate measures, and in the assessment of the renewable energy production potential in the heating and cooling sector.
• The RED II supports local energy production via renewable energy communities, promotes cooperation between LRAs and renewable energy communities, and includes a clear reference to renewable energy as a tool to fight energy poverty.
• The RED II includes references to cross-borders cooperation, takes into account the specific situation of outermost regions and islands, and proposes next steps to ease administrative procedures that constitute a major barrier for the deployment of renewable energy.
• The RED II includes the definition of "community battery" proposed by the CoR.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the proposed revision of the Renewable Energy Directive and the subsidiarity grid accompanying the proposal
- reiterates the importance for the Union of taking into account the specific features of each region, supporting cost-effective solutions and demands that proposals to further increase the emission targets be subject to a thorough impact assessment, including the territorial dimension, in cooperation with the European Committee of the Regions.
- regrets the lack of further incentives for the setting up of renewable energy communities in order to incentivize collective self-generation and self-consumption of sources of renewable energies and proposes a new definition of community battery
- Calls for more cross border renewable energy projects beyond those planned under the TEN-E framework, involving local and regional authorities and supports new requirement for joint offshore energy planning and measures for linked integrated grid planning in Member States bordering sea basins
- believes sustainable production of biomass is necessary to ensure environmental and biodiversity protection; stresses nonetheless that the introduction of new and more stringent criteria applying to all existing small scale biomass, heat and power installations would undermine the stability of the legal framework
- welcomes the upcoming EU solar energy strategy
- highlights the key role of hydrogen and green molecules in the energy transition and supports measures to encourage the development of clean hydrogen market and envisaged certification of renewable hydrogen
- stresses that to achieve greater resource efficiency in a sustainable manner, renewable fuels and recycled carbon fuels can be a transition fuel in the short term