Group of ministers urges EU to set 2030 goal for renewable energy

LONDON Mon Jan 6, 2014 11:49am EST

LONDON Jan 6 (Reuters) - Ministers from Germany, France and six other countries have called for the European Union to set a 2030 goal for renewable energy use, in opposition to their British counterpart who advocates a sole greenhouse gas emissions target.

A 2030 renewables goal, which would be part of a package of EU measures on energy and climate change, would cut dependency on fossil fuel imports and boost jobs and economic growth, the group of ministers said in a letter dated Dec. 23 and seen by Reuters on Monday.

"A target for renewable energy is crucial to provide certainty that can ensure cost-effective investments in energy systems that will strengthen the internal market for energy," the group of energy and environment ministers said in the letter to Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for climate action, and Guenther Oettinger, commissioner for energy.

The letter is dated Dec. 23 and signed by ministers from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.

A renewables goal would provide a secure market for manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels such as Acciona and Vestas.

Ed Davey, Britain's energy and climate change secretary, as well as some industry associations have said they favour a single binding 2030 goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions and head off climate change.

They contend that a single target could be cheaper, giving governments more flexibility in how they choose to cut those emissions, including building nuclear power plants or ramping up energy efficiency measures.

They also fear a renewables goal will dent the effectiveness of the Emissions Trading Scheme, Europe's flagship climate policy, which has floundered under the current system of three separate 2020 green energy goals - for renewables, efficiency savings and emissions.

The European Commission, the EU's executive, is expected to unveil a 2030 package on Jan. 22 to start off a legislative process that could take at least two years.

The Commission is considering a 40 percent emissions reduction target and a 30 percent renewables goal, EU sources have told Reuters.

The two goals would succeed the three 2020 targets of a 20 percent emissions cut from 1990 levels, a 20 percent share for renewable energy and energy savings of 20 percent of 1990 levels.