Renewable Energy Directive (RED)

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A sunset sky with wind turbines over the port of Antwerp A sunset sky with wind turbines over the port of Antwerp

The Renewable Energy Directive is an energy directive set by the European Union (EU) to support renewable energy sources and communities. The directive sets mandatory national targets for promoting renewable sources in final energy consumption. It provides a common framework for Member States to share best practices in order to reach these binding national targets. 

What is the Renewable Energy Directive (RED)?

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is an EU sustainability policy that sets out ambitious targets for the use of renewable energy sources and sustainable biofuels. It requires EU member states to meet certain sustainability thresholds for their energy sectors and encourages energy savings. It also promotes the use of neutral renewable energy like wind, solar, and geothermal in order to reduce fossil fuel combustion. Furthermore, it encourages alternative fuels such as biomass or biogas to reduce emissions from traditional sources. The RED also provides guidance on how businesses can ensure compliance with emission limits set by the EU and supports research into new technologies that can help cost-effectively increase renewable energy production.

Accelerating the transition to a low-carbon society

The overall aim is to ensure that at least 32% of EU’s total energy consumption comes from renewables by 2030. This goal was set as part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and will be achieved through various measures such as promoting renewables, supporting renewable projects, improving access to financing, and developing research programmes. Furthermore, the directive also encourages Member States to support innovative technologies that can contribute towards achieving the objectives set out in their national target plans. It also seeks to promote public participation in renewable projects by encouraging local communities and businesses to invest in them. By incentivising citizens and businesses alike, it seeks to make it easier for everyone involved - from producers of renewables, suppliers of technology services or citizens - to become part of this process of transitioning into a low-carbon society.

Promoting renewable fuels

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is the European Union's flagship policy for promoting renewable energy sources. It sets out mandatory national targets for the promotion of renewable energy use and its share in the fuel market, as well as specific rules for its use. RED focuses on a wide range of renewables, including classic renewables such as hydropower and wind energy, new and advanced biofuels as, well as geothermal, ocean and solar energies. In addition to this, it also includes measures to increase efficiency in existing systems by incentivising investments in research and innovation into green technologies.

Requirements for EU Member States

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sets out a framework for Member States to meet these targets, while also aiming to reduce the intensity of energy use, certain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other pollutants. In order to achieve these goals, the RED sets reduction thresholds that Member States will have to adhere to in order for their countries or regions to be considered compliant with the requirements set out by the directive. In addition, the RED requires Member States to make large structural modifications within their energy sector in order for them to fulfil both their energy targets and meet certain sustainability criteria. The Directive also includes provisions that allow for multipliers which can be used by Member States in meeting these requirements as well as revisions which are made periodically depending on changing circumstances such as technological advancements or economic conditions. Overall, The Renewable Energy Directive is an important measure taken by European Union member states towards increasing renewable energy production and reducing GHG emissions across Europe through various initiatives designed at meeting individual country-level reduction targets.

Background of the Renewable Energy Directive

This EU legislation was adopted in 2009 by the European Parliament and it set a target of 20% of energy consumption to be obtained from renewable sources by 2020. In addition, it also had an objective of 10% share of renewable energy used in transport. In 2018, the European Union updated its Renewable Energy Directive which aimed to increase the share of renewable energies used in Europe up to 32%. This new objective was supplemented with additional measures such as permitting Member States to extend the period for achieving their targets until 2030 and allowing them to determine their own individual national plans for reaching this goal. The necessary condition for all EU member states is that they must work together towards meeting a collective target that is higher than what would be achieved if each country reached its individual goals alone. This new directive also includes provisions encouraging Member States to cooperate on joint projects and initiatives aimed at achieving shared objectives such as increasing investments in renewables and ensuring supply security for electricity generated from these sources.

Increase in renewable fuels for the transport sector

The Renewable Energy Directive also requires EU leaders to ensure that at least 14% of all transport fuels are sourced from renewable sources by 2030. Additionally, the directive calls for an improvement in energy efficiency, which will be achieved through the implementation of an Energy Efficiency Directive. This directive has been designed with the intention of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving the European Commission's goals in terms of achieving sustainable development objectives and fighting climate change.