New agreement on the renewable energy directive lacks necessary ambition

Legislators agreed on a binding target of 42.5% at EU level


Publication date

April 7, 2023

On 30th March, EU co-legislators came to an agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED III). Despite Energy Cities numerous calls, together with other business, civil society & industry organisation they fell short in delivering the necessary 45% renewable energy target for 2030.

Legislators agreed on a binding target of 42.5% at EU level, with a voluntary target of 45%. Each member state will contribute to this common target and will already have to consider it as part of its National Climate and Energy Plan (NECP) to be drafted by June 2023 and finalised by June 2024. The translation of this target in national legislations can also change the target local governments have to aim at in their local renewable strategies, if any.

The directive also includes the obligation for Member States to accelerate renewable energy deployment by designating “go-to areas” where the permitting process would be fast-tracked. Renewable energy projects would also be considered of “overriding public interest”, to limit legal objections to their implementation.

It will be essential to ensure that local governments have a say in the definition of these areas. It seems that the final text of the directive should include an article on a public consultation process to be set up for the go-to areas identification – to be confirmed as soon as they will make it available. In a specific recommendation in May 2022 the Commission already suggested early public involvement in planning for RES project. The French law to accelerate renewables deployment, published in March 2023, already set a positive precedent: local elected representatives will have to be involved in the planning and also directly benefit from the value generated from the RES projects in their territory.

The new RED also defines sub-targets for specific sectors. For buildings, heating and cooling the agreement set a target of at least a 49% renewable energy share in buildings by 2030.  Support measures are foreseen for excess heat recovery and the promotion of thermal energy storage.

The provisional agreement is expected to be voted by the European Parliament during the summer months.