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European Parliament passes law ramping up use of renewable energy

The European Parliament passed landmark legislation Tuesday mandating member countries boost the share of renewable energy to at least 42.5% of the total they consume by 2030, with an ultimate target of 45%. File photo courtesy Equinor
The European Parliament passed landmark legislation Tuesday mandating member countries boost the share of renewable energy to at least 42.5% of the total they consume by 2030, with an ultimate target of 45%. File photo courtesy Equinor

Sept. 12 (UPI) -- European Union lawmakers backed plans Tuesday to ramp up the proportion of energy consumed in the 27-country bloc that is produced by renewables to at least 42.5% by 2030, with an ultimate target of 45%.

MEPs voted 470-120 for the update to the Renewable Energy Directive, boosting the legal renewables requirement from the 32% level set in 2018, streamlining approval procedures for deploying renewables and using new transport fuels to slash the sector's greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 14.5%.

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However, the measure will still need to be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers before it becomes law.

The legislation will speed up the granting of permits for new renewable energy power plants, such as solar panels or wind turbines, or to adapt existing ones, and limit to 12 months the time authorities in member countries can take to approve new renewable energy installations in "renewables go-to areas."

Projects outside these special zones must be approved within 2 years.

The directive also sets a target for new renewable energy capacity to comprise at least 5% innovative renewal technology, as well as a binding framework for cross-border energy projects.

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The transport emissions targets will be achieved by boosting the share of advanced biofuels and higher quotas for renewable fuels of non-biological origin, such as hydrogen.

Biomass from wood will remain classified as renewable energy but will not be permitted to subsidize unsustainable practices, with MEPs adding in protections against negative impacts on soil quality and biodiversity.

Lead MEP Markus Pieper, a German representative of the center-right European People's Party, said raising the bloc's renewable energy targets in pursuit of greater energy independence and lower CO2 emissions proved Brussels was capable of cutting through the red tape to achieve practical gains.

"We have designated renewables as an overriding public interest, streamlining their approval process. Our focus encompasses wind power, photovoltaics, hydropower, geothermal energy, and tidal currents," said Pieper.

"Under the principle of 'Positive silence', investments will be deemed approved in the absence of administrative feedback. We now urgently need an EU electricity market design and an immediate shift to hydrogen for a greener transition."

The parliament and the council reached an interim agreement on the legislation in June after MEPs adopted a provisional proposal in March.

The move came after the U.N.-backed International Renewable Energy Agency said that while advanced economies such as China, the EU and the United States accounted for about 60% of total growth in alternative energy last year, a comprehensive shift was necessary.

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