EU Reaches Provisional Deal to Raise Renewable Energy Target

BRUSSELS (AP) -- European Union countries and negotiators from the EU's parliament reached a provisional deal Thursday to raise the share of renewables in the bloc's energy mix, another step to accelerate its green transition.

The European Council, which represents the 27 member nations, said the agreement reached after all-night negotiations would raise the renewable energy target to 42.5% of total consumption by 2030. The current goal is 32%.

To meet the EU's goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050, the EU's executive commission supported a target of 45%. The council and the European Parliament left a door open for such an increase, agreeing on "an additional 2.5% indicative top up that would allow to reach 45%."

Russia's war in Ukraine has accelerated the EU's green transition. The bloc reduced its dependency on Russian fossil fuels and increased its renewable energy use over the past year.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement announced Thursday would allow "for more ambition and faster roll-out of renewables,"

"This will help us progress towards climate neutrality, strengthen our energy security and boost our competitiveness, all at once," von der Leyen said.

According to EU data, the bloc's gas consumption dropped 19.3% during August 2022-January 2023 compared to the average for the same months between 2017 and 2022.

A review by global energy think tank Ember showed that wind and solar generated a record 22% of the EU's electricity last year and for the first time overtook gas, which accounted for 20%. Coal power accounted for 16%.

The negotiations between the European Parliament and the European Council dragged on into the night because of a rift between two groups of countries over the role of nuclear energy in the production of hydrogen.

In the end, the agreement gave nations the possibility of using nuclear technology.

Under the deal, 42% of the hydrogen used in industry should come from renewable fuels of non-biological origin by 2030 and 60% by 2035. EU countries producing hydrogen from nuclear power would be able to reduce their overall renewable hydrogen production target by 20% if they also reduce the share of hydrogen from fossil fuels.

The deal still needs formal approval to take effect.