The European Commission is expected to reveal the details of the Revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED lll) in 14 July.

The revision falls under the “Fit for 55” package and is expected to see the EU’s 2030 renewables target increased from 32% to at least 38% to 40% in final energy consumption.

The aim of the 'Fit for 55' package is to revise various energy and emission policies to better align them with the EU’s new goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

Achieving this target of 38-40% essentially means doubling the share of renewables in the bloc's energy mix. Renewables currently account for around 20% of the EU energy mix.

Biomass under pressure

The RED III revision is reported to contain tougher sustainability criteria for biofuels, particularly in relation to forestry biomass.

Reports suggest that the draft European Commission proposal will require biomass-fuelled power and heat plants with a capacity of 5 megawatts (MW) or above to meet stringent new sustainability criteria.

Currently plants below 20MW are exempt from this criteria, which demands proof that the wood fuel provides substantial emissions cuts versus fossil fuels.

To put this into context, around 20% of the EU’s energy mix comes from renewables. More than half of that is biomass. This fuel is considered to have a low carbon footprint, as carbon dioxide emissions produced from burning the wood are partly offset by CO2 absorbed and sequestered by the trees.

It is claimed that these measures are being considered in order to protect delicate woodland ecosystems and maximise the use of wood for other purposes such as furniture making.

Fit for 55

The revisions and initiatives, which relate to the European Green Deal’s climate target plans of a 55% net reduction in emissions, are grouped under the 'Fit for 55' package.

The following initiatives under the package are expected to be formally announced this year:

  • Amendment to the Renewable Energy Directive to implement the ambition of the new 2030 climate target (RED).
  • Revision of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), including maritime, aviation and CORSIA, as well as a proposal for ETS as own resource.
  • Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) and a proposal for CBAM as own resource.
  • Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR).
  • Revision of the Energy Tax Directive.
  • Amendment of the Energy Efficiency Directive to implement the ambition of the new 2030 climate target (EED).
  • Reducing methane emissions in the energy sector.
  • Revision of the regulation on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF).
  • Revision of the directive on deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure.
  • Revision of the regulation setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles.
  • Revision of the energy performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).
  • Revision of the Third Energy Package for gas (Directive 2009/73/EU and Regulation 715/2009/EU) to regulate competitive decarbonised gas markets.