European Parliament votes in favour of mandatory obligations to install more renewables in buildings

By: Christophe Arnaud, Policy Advisor

The ITRE Committee voted on 28 November on the Renewable Energy Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive reports. The results of these votes could lead to significant national policies incentivising the development of renewables in buildings.

Renewable Energy Directive: European parliament supporting ambitions of renewables in buildings.

Building on SolarPower Europe's proposals, and despite initial opposition from members of the Liberals party, the ITRE Committee strengthened the positive provisions put forward by the European Commission in its Art 15.

 They set obligations for Member States to:

  • Increase the share of renewables in the building sector, and to
  • Require minimum levels of renewable energy in new buildings and buildings subject to major renovation

Solar Power Europe welcomes these provisions as they significantly enhance the contribution of Solar energy in decarbonising the building stock.

Early January 2018, the EU Parliament should confirm this vote in plenary session and give a mandate to the rapporteur to negotiate with the Council.

Energy efficiency negotiations: Suspense ahead of plenary vote

The European Parliament was very divided on this file, notably due to the particular stance taken by the former Rapporteur A. Gierek. The difficulties in the ITRE Commitee negotiations over the report led to a very short majority vote (33 in favour vs. 30 opposed). Following this vote, Adam Gierek was replaced by a new rapporteur, Miroslav Poche. This should lead to new compromises to be tabled ahead of the European Parliament in Plenary session on 15 January.

As it stands, the current report sets:

  • 40% energy efficiency target binding at EU and national level
  • 2.0 default primary energy factor for accounting electricity, and obligation for Member States to have a comparable and transparent method reflecting their actual energy mix.
  • 1.5% annual energy savings obligations scheme, without flexibilities granted for Member States to contribute to this annual obligation, notably the amount of energy consumed from industrial activities and the renewable energy generated and used in buildings.

Solar Power Europe welcomes this evolution, which is key to foster the electrification of key sectors of the economy.

However, taking out the flexibility element related to renewable energy generated and used in buildings would be a missed opportunity to bring together the progressive decarbonisation of the building stock and uptake of renewable energies, notably solar. Yet, building this link will have significant added value in a forward-looking approach, taking into account the fast-growing potential of sector coupling.

Intense negotiations are starting again on amendments to be tabled for the plenary vote, which should lead to a more balanced approach in the final report to be adopted by the European Parliament on 15 January.

Trialogue negotiations with the Council and the European Commission will then begin shortly after.

(Photo Credit: European Union Council)