EU 'green' recovery to target buildings, clean power, hydrogen: draft

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union plans for an environmentally-friendly economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will target building renovation, renewable energy and clean hydrogen fuel, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The draft, due to be published on May 27, lays out how the European Commission plans to use low-carbon investments to battle the bloc’s virus-induced economic downturn.

The Commission declined to comment on the draft, which may change before publication. It must also be approved by EU governments and European Parliament.

The draft climate measures in the Commission recovery plan - which will be funded by the bloc’s long-term budget and a fresh EU recovery fund - aim to transform Europe’s building stock to curb energy use, cut consumers’ bills and quickly create jobs in construction.

The Commission will earmark 91 billion euros each year in grants and loan guarantees for renovations like rooftop solar panels, insulation and renewable heating systems.

Under the Commission proposal, the EU will tender 15GW of renewable energy capacity in the next two years, with expected investments of 25 billion euros.

A 10 billion euro fund, administered by the European Investment Bank, will also offer loans to projects for renewable energy and clean hydrogen - a zero-carbon fuel produced using renewable power.

Green hydrogen is seen as crucial to deliver the Commission’s target to decarbonise the EU economy by 2050, by replacing fossil fuels in polluting industrial processes.

The Commission plans to expand clean transport through a 20 billion euro scheme of grants and guarantees to boost sales of “clean” vehicles over the next two years. Greenpeace said that any public funding for carmakers should be tied to commitments from firms to end diesel and petrol car sales by 2028.

The EU will also aim to install 2 million electric and hydrogen vehicle charging stations by 2025.

Reporting by Kate Abnett;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle