The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sets a binding target of 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.
According to the latest progress report, the share of renewable energy in heating and cooling was estimated to be 16.6% in 2014. “Renewable heating is increasingly being used as a cost-efficient and secure alternative to fossil fuels in Member States in district heating and at local level.”
EU countries agreed on a new renewable energy target of at least 27% of final energy consumption in by 2030, as part of the EU’s energy and climate goals for 2030. In its Energy Union strategy, the European Commission announced a new renewable energy package for the period after 2020, to include a new renewable energy directive for the period 2020-2030 and an updated EU bioenergy sustainability policy.
Moreover, Member States are required to adopt national energy and climate plans following the new Energy Union Governance. The starting point for these plans should be in recognising the synergies between heating and cooling, and the rest of the energy system; a principle strongly anchored in the EU Heating and Cooling Strategy. In this context, district energy networks become key to the decarbonisation of the energy system, both by directly integrating renewable heat and by providing energy storage for excess renewable electricity.
In November 2016, the Commission released its “Clean Energy For All Europeans” package, which includes key Energy Union legislative proposals with impact on the district energy sector such as the revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Directive (RED) including biomass sustainability rules. We believe that the current RED is too strongly focused on renewable electricity as opposed to other forms of renewable energy, meaning that the potential to develop renewable heating and cooling has been neglected. A specific emphasis on renewable heating and cooling should therefore emerge. Better coordination with other policy measures (e.g. Energy Efficiency Directive and Energy Performance of Buildings Directive) would also be welcomed.