Last month, the European Commission presented a package of measures, known as “the Winter Package”, to strengthen the EU’s competitiveness in adopting and leading the clean energy transition. In addition to promoting energy efficiency, the clean energy transition will continue to offer a wide range of investment opportunities. During 2015, the clean energy field attracted a record global investment of over €300 billion, six times the investment secured in 2004.
The Winter Package places emphasis on the following goals to achieve a low-carbon future:
- The promotion of energy efficiency under the slogan “putting energy efficiency first”. The European Commission has proposed a binding EU-wide target of 30% for energy efficiency by 2030, which will significantly reduce the EU’s fossil fuel import bill. Accordingly, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive will need to be modified in order to increase the rate of decarbonising existing buildings by mid-century.
- The EU’s achievement of a global leadership position in the renewable energies sector. By 2030, half of the EU’s electricity generation is expected to come from renewables; and by 2050, a completely carbon-free economy is envisaged. However, the European Commission recognises that this target can only be achieved if investor certainty is ensured. To this end, the clean energy package will set out framework principles to encourage national support of renewable energy development. Such framework principles will include: cross-border support schemes; the respect of the principle of non-retroactivity; and long-term visibility for referred support schemes.
- Providing a fair deal for consumers will be a top priority of the EU. All consumers across the EU will be entitled to generate electricity for either their own consumption, or to store it, share it, consume it and/or sell it back into the pool. Similarly, the EU is striving to better facilitate day-to-day utility operations, such as billing, changing suppliers or securing new supply contracts in the event of moving house. Finally, the delivery of energy also includes a new approach to protect vulnerable consumers, which will encourage Member States to reduce the costs of energy for consumers by supporting energy efficiency investments.
After the publication of the Winter Package, the European Parliament will begin the legislative procedure to turn these proposals into concrete regulations, which could last up to two years. Nevertheless, all Member States should take into account these proposed measures when considering or approving any regulatory development.