EU set to meet its renewable energy targets by 2020
Brussels, March 11 : The European Union is set to achieve its self-imposed target of deriving at least 20 per cent of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, the bloc's executive said Thursday.
The target is part of the EU's so-called 20-20-20 strategy, which also foresees a 20 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels and a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency, all by 2020.
On the basis of what it billed as "very preliminary forecasts" from national governments, the European Commission said "the EU will reach an overall share of 20.3 percent renewables", surpassing its target.
"This is a very positive sign for the environment, as it will help us to cut CO2 emissions and at the same time enhance our energy security," Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger commented.
However, an EU official admitted that projections offered by member states was taken "at face value", adding that Brussels is set to receive more details plans in June, on which it will pass judgement in October.
The 20 percent figure is an EU average of the targets set for each of its 27 member states. Germany, for example, has to reach 18.7 percent, while France was asked to go up to 23 percent.
Countries overshooting their targets - as Spain and Germany are planning to do - are set to profit by selling their excess renewables production to EU partners expected to fall short.
According to the documents published Thursday, only Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg and Malta are set to fall in that category, leaving them obliged to import renewable power to meet their EU target.
Oettinger was keen to stress the economic opportunities available to member states, as investments in energy production from biofuels, biomass, wind, solar and hydro power could create new jobs and spur growth.
Last year the commission produced a report claiming that reaching the 20 percent renewables target could give employment to 2.8 million extra people and add 1.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to the EU's economy.
"It is ... a very positive message for our economy and our companies. It is an incentive to invest in green technology and the production of renewable energy," Oettinger said. (DPA)