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New Directive in EU allow development of geothermal energy beyond 2020

EU Parliament, Brussels (source: flickr/ Connect Euranet, creative commons)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 14 Nov 2018

The new Renewable, Energy Efficiency and Governance Directive voted by the European Parliament allow development of geothermal energy beyond 2020, so the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) in a release this week.

The new Renewable, Energy Efficiency and Governance Directive voted by the European Parliament allow development of geothermal energy beyond 2020, so the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) in a release this week.

EGEC welcomes the adoption of the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Governance Regulation by the European Parliament today. The new legislations will be the basis for the European climate and energy regulatory framework after 2020. While they do not quite point to the right level of ambition, they lay out a framework that allows the accelerated development of geothermal energy.

The EU Clean Energy Package sets a 32% binding target for renewables in 2030, and a – regrettably indicative – target of 32.5% energy efficiency improvements. EGEC was among the few organisations openly advocating for binding ambitious targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, an attestation of their complementarity. The new set of legislations also includes a sectorial obligation to increase by 1.3 percentage point the share of renewables in heating and cooling at the national level annually. For Philippe Dumas, EGEC Secretary General: “The introduction of a sectorial obligation to increase the penetration of renewable heating and cooling is a positive signal for geothermal and lets us expect that strong policies will be implemented to decarbonise a sector which represents nearly half of the EU’s energy demand”.

“EGEC has been very active to obtain a renewable heating and cooling obligation that makes sense and accelerates current trends,” notes Philippe Dumas. Indeed, the initial proposal could have led to a slowdown in the addition of new renewable heating and cooling. The adopted text is a more positive signal for the geothermal industry.

This obligation comes in addition to the objective of decarbonising the building stock by 2050, as defined by the Energy Performance of Building Directive which came into force in July 2018.

The Clean Energy Package also sets a more robust policy framework, also for geothermal electricity, allowing Member States to establish technology specific support schemes. It increases investors certainty with provisions that forbid retroactive changes and that set transparent timeframes on upcoming regulatory changes. “The provisions on support schemes are balanced and allow for the development of untapped technologies such as geothermal, which provides many benefits to the energy system” adds Philippe Dumas. He also notes that “This framework on support schemes will have to be applied with consistency across European legislations, including in the State Aid guidelines.”

Philippe Dumas however regrets that “Many uninformed or disingenuous proposals, and attacks lacking scientific ground and ignoring available evidence, were aimed at hampering the development of geothermal energy – while discussing a package intended to promote the use of energy from renewable sources.” Therefore, on top of its efforts to propose a sound and ambitious framework for the energy transition, EGEC had to grapple as well with those unfounded claims against geothermal energy.

Geothermal energy is an abundant and clean renewable resource that can provide electricity as well as heating and cooling. The legislative texts adopted today by the European Parliament set a framework that gives more investor certainty and signals ambition, notably in the heating and cooling sector. The EU and Member States must now act and accelerate the switch away from fossil fuels. “Geothermal energy is a cornerstone of the energy transition. The implementation of the Clean Energy Package at the national level must allow us to accelerate the development of this key resource,” concludes Philippe Dumas.

Source: EGEC (pdf)