Sharing the European goal by country -- Commission lifts veil on reaching 20% renewables by 2020

Wealthier European countries will shoulder more of the responsibility for meeting the EU's new 2020 target for renewable energy under European Commission proposals. National targets will be based partly on a country's gross domestic product (GDP), reports Reuters news agency, quoting Commission official Tom Howes speaking last month at a conference in Brussels.

Back in March this year, European leaders signed up to a binding goal for the EU to meet 20% of its energy use from renewables by 2020, with each of the EU's 27 member countries to be legally required to meet specific renewables targets by that date. The Commission has been working on what those targets should be. The results will be published in a draft directive on January 23 in a package of climate change and energy legislation. The overall proportion of renewable energy consumption across the EU currently stands at 8.5%.

Howes, from the Commission's transport and energy directorate, DG Tren, said the latest thinking is to propose that all states increase their use of renewables by 5.75%, regardless of current levels of green generation. A further 5.75% increase would be divided up based on national GDP. Combined, this will provide the 11.5% of additional renewables needed to meet the 20% goal. "All member states will have to make significant contributions to the target," said Howes. "No one can relax." He added, however, that a final decision on the proposals for the draft directive will not be made until January.

The proposal will run hand-in-hand with a trading mechanism to allow "guarantees of origin" of energy from renewables to be electronically traded across borders independently of the physical power flows (page 51). In this way, member states would be able to buy a credit that represents renewable energy produced and consumed in another nation.

Together the two measures will allow the renewable resources of poorer member states of eastern and southern Europe to be developed with financial help from richer European countries, which would find it difficult to meet their new targets from within their borders, says the Commission.