With gas and electricity prices soaring in Europe and industry having a hard keeping up with the cost, the EU energy and transport ministers met in Slovenia to address problem. The solution is accelerate the increased use and development of renewable energy, even more than what was planned just a few months ago.
EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson says it will ramp up energy targets. She said instead of a goal of using 32% renewable energy by 2030, the EU will now strive to use 40% renewable energy. She also said they need to save 9% more energy than the union’s current plans state.
She says the focus will be in areas where clean energy progress has been slower, such as buildings, industry and transport.
“In the long run, the solution to today’s conundrum is clear: we need more renewables and we need to improve our energy efficiency,” Simson says.
The cost of energy to industry has hit Europe hard. Several British steel makers have ceased operations, according to CNN, and a fertilizer company in Norway is cutting ammonia production by 40%. Bloomberg reports Germany’s BASF can’t keep up with the energy crunch despite producing 80% of its own power.
In July, the EU proposed the Fit for 55 sustainability plan. It is a revision of its climate, energy and transport-related legislation to cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The EU wants achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Part of the plan calls for separate emissions rules for industry, including buildings and transport.
This meeting was the first time the ministers met in person regarding Fit for 55 and had a greater importance with the increased pressure on energy uses.
While electricity prices have increased globally, in large part to high natural gas prices and growing demand caused by COVID-19 recovery, European energy costs have tripled this year and are near record highs. Gas prices are up 250% in Europe since January.
European industry has been more open to sustainability goals than other parts of the world, according to a survey by ING. The current price and energy crunch make it even more important to address the issues now, Simson says.
Simson says renewable energy is the cheapest source of power and that the EU has to keep investing in wind and solar power to make affordable and green energy. Solar power, for example, could be a way for millions of businesses to host their own energy source.
The EU plan also calls for each country to save 1.5% in energy each year.