EC’s 27% RES energy mix target by 2030 raises questions

The European Commission’s RES penetration objective of 27 percent by 2030, adopted late last month as part of the “winter package” of energy-sector proposals, has raised a series of questions that remain unanswered by Brussels.

Though the plan had been announced in the past, a revision had not been ruled out prior to the winter package’s arrival.

The 27 percent objective set, viewed as a RES slowdown, suggests that certain problems may lie ahead for further RES sector growth. In the past, it had been generally accepted, internationally, that economies of scale would eventually take effect and provide momentum for strong RES growth.

This no longer appears to be the case. In a previous energy mix objective set by the EU, a RES penetration target of 20 percent had been set for 2020, which makes the 27 percent objective set for 2030 seem timid by comparison.

In setting such an objective, the European Commission appears to have factored in new electricity market realities, including acceptance of the belief that grids may be negatively impacted as a result of RES penetration beyond a certain point. This danger has already become apparent in Germany. Besides technical difficulties and an overloaded grid, unfavorable market-related developments, such as negative system marginal prices, have surfaced.

Such developments have obviously prompted Brussels to approach its RES objectives a little more conservatively, as suggested by the less ambitious targets set by the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Change Miguel Arias Canete, announced through the “winter package”.

Another question prompted by the “winter package” concerns the lack of clarity on how national RES targets will be coordinated for the 2030 target.

The withdrawal of older RES units in the next decade and how this will be carried out, until now unnecessary as a result of the sector’s relatively young age, is another basic issue that remains unanswered. RES unit withdrawals will need to be replaced by new systems, which could affect objectives.