Content updated 9 March 2023.

Renewable Energy Directive

The Renewable Energy Directive was revised in 2018 and is legally binding since June 2021. The European Council and European Parliament is presently discussing a revision of the Directive. Adoption is expected in the first quarter of 2023.

A majority of EU Member States have backed a 40% target for renewable energies like wind and solar by 2030. The EU Commission (supported by the Parliament) has backed a 45% target, in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The 2018 Directive

The target in the 2018 Directive sets the overarching European target for renewable energy and includes:

  • Rules to ensure the uptake of renewables in the transport sector and in heating and cooling;
  • Common principles and rules for renewables support schemes;
  • The rights to produce and consume renewable energy ;
  • Provisions to establish renewable energy communities, and sustainability criteria for biomass;
  • Rules to remove barriers, stimulate investments and drive cost reductions in renewable energy technologies; and
  • Rules to empower citizens, consumers and businesses to participate in the clean energy transformation.

Since the introduction of the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC) in 2009, the deployment of renewables has kept growing yearly, reaching more than 22% in 2020.

According to the study ‘EU’s global leadership in renewables’ the EU is already in a leading position for renewables technology development, suggesting that its competitive position on global renewable energy markets could be further strengthened. 

The proposed revision

In July 2021, the Commission proposed a revision of the Directive, with an increased target of 40% renewable energy sources in the EU’s overall energy mix by 2030 In May 2022, the Commission proposed in its Communication on the REPowerEU plan to further increase this target to 45% by 2030.

The target to accelerate the take-up of renewables in the EU includes speeding up the permitting processes for the deployment of renewables. The proposal include:

  • Increased renewables ambition in key sectors: heating and cooling (mandatory annual increase of 1.1% Renewable Energy Sources – RES – share), transport, industry, buildings (indicative 49% RES share by 2030);
  • Boosting the deployment of and the investment in renewable energy, including small-scale RES in buildings;
  • Sustainable bioenergy reinforced criteria in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy;
  • Measures to foster Energy System Integration and consumer empowerment, including via Renewable Energy Communities;
  • Measures on accelerating permitting and ‘go to areas’;
  • Provisions to increase uptake of RES in centralised district heating and cooling systems; and
  • Increased role of RES energy communities, self-consumption, and prosumers.

The revision of the Directive also introduces new measures to complement the already existing building blocks established by the 2009 and 2018 Directives, including strengthened measures to support renewables uptake in transport, heating and cooling.

The aim is to create an energy efficient and circular energy system based on renewable energy and promote the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels (including hydrogen) in sectors (e.g. the transport sector) where electrification is not yet a feasible option.