* Options include new set of green goals
* Another option would be just a carbon goal
* Commission wants subsidies to be consistent, not withdrawn
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, June 6 Europe must agree 2030
milestones as soon as possible to spur investment in renewable
energy, or green power growth will fizzle once firm policy runs
out in 2020, the European Commission said on Wednesday in its
latest strategy statement.
Many in the renewable energy sector agree there is a need
for strong guidance, but they want binding targets, rather than
vague aims. At the other extreme, some of the 27 member states
are strongly opposed to legal goals for renewables.
The European Union currently has a firm target to increase
the share of renewable energy in the mix to 20 percent, which
analysts and industry say it should meet and could exceed.
"We should continue to develop renewable energy and promote
innovative solutions. We have to do it in a cost-efficient way,"
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said in a statement.
"This means producing wind and solar power where it makes
economic sense and trading it within Europe, as we do for other
products and services."
The Commission says meeting the 20 percent goal in a
cost-efficient manner requires better coordination across member
states, so renewables, such as solar and wind, can be generated
wherever they are cheapest.
It also says "support schemes" should be consistent across
the bloc and reiterates its backing for an integrated market
connecting into northern Africa, where it sees the potential for
large-scale solar generation to supply Europe.
Looking beyond 2020, Oettinger has said he wants agreement
on a new policy regime before the end of the current Commission,
whose mandate expires in 2014.
The renewables communication only lays out scenarios for how
to move on from the 20 percent renewables binding goal, which is
one of a set of three green energy targets to be achieved by
2020. The others are for a 20 percent cut in carbon emissions
and a non-binding 20 percent cut in consumption compared with
"Without a suitable framework (after 2020) renewable energy
growth will slump," the Commission said in a statement.
Options include new goals for emissions cuts, but no goals
for renewable energy, which would leave the Emissions Trading
Scheme (ETS) as the main instrument to cut carbon emissions and
encourage renewable energy.
Britain, for instance, has said the emphasis should be on
the carbon goal and that a renewable target might disadvantage
other low carbon generation, such as nuclear, or even natural
Nuclear generation of power is carbon-free, while gas is the
least carbon intensive of the fossil fuels.
Many in the renewable industry say the collapse of the ETS
to less than 7 euros, far below the 20-50 euros
analysts have said is necessary to encourage low carbon
investment, also demonstrates the need for a renewable target.
A second option outlined in the Commission document would be
to replace the three 2020 targets with three 2030 targets. This
could take the form of national, or EU-wide targets.
The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), the umbrella
organisation for the European renewable energy industry, has
proposed a binding target to ensure renewables make up 45
percent of the energy mix by 2030.
"This is not something that's really impossible," said
Arthouros Zervos, EREC president and chief executive of Greece's
biggest electricity producer, PPC.
EREC also backs increasing the ambition on carbon cutting to
30 percent from 20 for 2020.
Zervos called for a stable policy on subsidies for
renewables, arguing that fossil fuel subsidies were much higher
than those for green energy, and "negative, disruptive changes"
and retroactive changes were a particular problem.
The European Wind Energy Association said strong growth in
renewables to 2030 could generate more than 3 million jobs.
(Editing by Rex Merrifield)