Increased EU targets could prompt investment, report finds

EUROPE: Increasing renewables' share in the European energy mix to 34% could trigger extra investment and job growth, according to a new report.

IRENA director-general Adnan Amin (centre) unveils the report alongside European commissioner for energy and climate action, Miguel Arias Cañete (left)

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) claims doubling renewables’ 2016 share in Europe could lead to additional investments of just under €349 billion (US $433 billion) by 2030.

Up to €20 billion could be saved annually by 2030, the agency stated, even with additional costs for modernising power grids and new installations.

These savings would be realised through avoided health damage and environmental costs, IRENA said.

Additionally, by reaching the 34% target, the number of people employed in the renewables sector (1.2 million in 2016), would "substantially increase", IRENA stated — although a figure is not given.

To reach a 34% share, however, deployment of renewables would need to be accelerated, according to the report, ‘Renewable Energy Prospects for the European Union’.

In a scenario in which the 34% target is met, Europe would have 327GW of installed wind capacity — 97GW more than the ‘reference case’, which assumes the "continuation of existing and planned policies".

"With an ambitious and achievable new renewable energy strategy, the EU can deliver market certainty to investors and developers, strengthen economic activity, grow jobs, improve health, and put the EU on a stronger decarbonisation pathway in line with its climate objectives," IRENA director-general Adnan Amin said.

Last month, members of the European Parliament backed a renewable energy target of 35% by 2030 — an increase on the 27% target proposed by the European Council.

The three can now begin tripartite negotiations to reconcile the eight-percentage-point difference in targets.

After publication of IRENA’s report, Miguel Arias Cañete, commissioner for energy and climate action, said: "The report confirms our own assessments that the costs of renewables have come down significantly in the last couple of years, and that we need to consider how these new realities in our ambition levels for the upcoming negotiations to finalise Europe’s renewable energy policies."

Industry organisation WindEurope had previously argued that increasing the renewable energy target would help to create jobs and supply chain value.