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European Union energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has said he wants to strengthen the powers of the European Commission over EU green energy policy, imposing for the first time EU-wide binding targets on renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2030.

These already exist on a national scale for renewables and emissions (although not yet on energy efficiency). Speaking to the press yesterday (June 6) in Brussels during the launch of a European Commission policy paper (a ‘communication’) on renewable energy, Oettinger stressed the need for long-term planning. “Private investors want certainty, a legal basis and market forecast for the next decades”, Oettinger said. “Decisions need to be taken about possible binding targets for 2030”, he added. He intends to propose legally-binding legislation on renewable energy policy beyond the current renewable energy directive’s endpoint of 2020 in the beginning of next year. Brussels is clearly prepared to be ambitious. Imposing binding targets on the three energy issues “would be like creating a renewable energy version of the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)”, a Commission official told Utility Week later.

But the final decision will follow public consultation. The two other options for an EU renewable energy policy beyond 2020 put forward by the communication would keep the current status-quo or rely on markets and use the ETS to cut down on CO2 emissions and abandon the use of targets for renewable energy.

The Commissioner made it clear he preferred more central control by Brussels: “Member states have made drastic changes in the support systems for renewable energy sources, which destroy investors’ confidence”, Oettinger said. “An overnight change in one member state can damage the image of renewable energy across the continent”, he added.

Utility Week, 7 June 2012