The European Commission presented the REPowerEU Plan proposal detailing its strategy to respond to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Commission had earlier this year proposed an outline of this plan to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030, starting with gas.
As a part of the plan, the EU Commission has proposed a Solar Rooftop Initiative, under which all new public, commercial and residential buildings will be legally obligated to install solar panels in a phased manner.
The plan also proposes an EU Solar Strategy, under which the Commission intends to double its solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity by 2025 and install 600 GW by 2030. It also proposes to increase the initial renewables target set under the ‘Fit for 55 Package’ from 40% to 45%.
The Commission will work towards doubling the deployment rate of heat pumps and measures to integrate geothermal and solar thermal energy in the modernized district and communal heating systems.
It has been proposed that the member states recognize renewable energy as an overriding public interest. It also suggests that they identify dedicated ‘go-to’ areas for renewables and shorten and simplify the approval process for such areas. To help quickly identify such ‘go-to’ areas, the Commission would make available datasets on environmentally sensitive areas as part of its digital mapping tool for geographic data related to energy, industry, and infrastructure.
The plan recommends setting a target of 10 million tons of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10 million tons of imports by 2030 to replace natural gas, coal and oil in hard-to-decarbonize industries and transport sectors. To accelerate hydrogen projects, additional funding of €200 million (~$210 million) is set aside by the Commission for research. It commits to complete the assessment of the first Important Projects of Common European Interest by the summer.
The Commission will roll out carbon contracts for difference to support the uptake of green hydrogen by industry and specific financing for REPowerEU under the Innovation Fund, using emission trading revenues. In a recent speech, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “Our Important Projects of Common European Interest on hydrogen shall be approved by the summer. This will kickstart large industry-driven investments, which are worth well over €50 billion (~$52.6 billion). Hydrogen is a perfect example of what public-private partnerships can achieve.”
The Commission would present a Greening of Freight Package, aiming to significantly increase energy efficiency in the sector and consider a legislative initiative to increase the share of zero-emission vehicles in public and corporate car fleets above a certain size.
Funding for the REPowerEU plan
To fund the proposed measures in the REPowerEU plan, the Commission plans to lend €225 billion (~$236.85 billion) available under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). It has proposed increasing this with €20 billion (~$21.05 billion) in grants from the sale of EU Emission Trading System allowances.
Under the current Multiannual Financial Framework’s cohesion policy, the Commission already has up to €100 billion (~$105.28 billion) approved for renewable energy, hydrogen and infrastructure projects. It plans to invest an additional €26.9 billion (~$28.32 billion) from cohesion funds and €7.5 billion (~$7.90 billion) from the Common Agricultural Policy towards the RRF.
The measures in the REPowerEU plans are expected to help the European Union help accelerate the renewable energy roll-out and eventually replace fossil fuels in homes, industry, and power generation.
In March this year, the European Solar Manufacturing Council released policy proposals for building extensive solar module manufacturing capacities with long-term competitiveness in Europe.