Renewable Energy directive passed at last

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The European Parliament has voted through Europe's first ever law dedicated to renewable energy. This aims to double renewables' share of energy across Europe from 6% to 12% by 2010. The directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources was finally approved by the parliament after a series of compromises were thrashed out between the parliament, the European Commission (the EU's executive) and the council of representatives. Member states will have to meet national targets for renewable energy. Although these are not binding, the commission may propose firm targets on laggards. The various national renewables support systems will stay in place for the time being, but after four years the commission will review the different schemes and consider proposing a harmonised pan-European support scheme in order to bring down barriers between national markets. As well as setting targets, the directive also requires countries to ensure guaranteed access to transmission and distribution networks for renewables and more transparent terms for grid access, provide a system to guarantee the origin of green electricity and simplify planning processes for renewable projects. Klaus Rave, outgoing president of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), calls the directive an "historic landmark" for the wind energy industry. "For the first time the EU," continues Rave, "acknowledges that renewable energies are a vital player in the international energy market. Now we have to create a stable investment climate for sustainable development." All that remains now before the directive becomes law is for it to be adopted by the European Council at the beginning of September.

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