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  • EU is hurting renewables ambition by overestimating the share of expensive bioenergy – study

    The European Commission is overestimating the share of renewable energy that will be filled by bioenergy in 2030 while underestimating a significant drop in the cost of renewables such as wind and solar energy, a new independent study has found. As the Commission used old data, higher ambition on renewables appears to be more expensive than it actually is, warned NGOs Transport & Environment (T&E) and Birdlife Europe, which commissioned the study. Unless this is corrected, lawmakers might end up being less ambitious about mandating the uptake of renewable energy or being overly optimistic about mandating the use of bioenergy.

    The study finds that if accurate costs for bioenergy were taken into account, the share of bioenergy, such as wood pellets, wastes and residues, would shrink from 60% in 2014 to 46% in 2030 in the EU – meaning the Commission’s forecast [1] of 63% is way off. Also, if a more cost-effective mix of renewable energy were deployed, wind energy would more than double to about 20% of renewables while solar would increase fivefold to about 20%.

    Jori Sihvonen, biofuels officer at T&E, said: “The Commission thinks that almost two-thirds of renewables will come from bioenergy in different forms, but this is way off and does not take into account the sharp falls we have seen in the prices of wind and solar. Lawmakers should use the latest prices in order to make an informed choice on the level of ambition when setting renewables targets.”

    The Commission’s model used old prices for renewables, from 2012, which do not take into account the recent sharp decreases in the costs of solar and wind energy. CE Delft’s independent study uses data from 2015, which includes the most recent renewable energy costs. The lawmakers are discussing a proposed EU target of 27% of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030 and are considering whether it should be higher and what should be the conditions for meeting it.

    Sini Eräjää, EU bioenergy policy officer at Birdlife Europe, said: “The use of biomass for electricity production is particularly inefficient and, as the study shows, also expensive compared to other renewables. The Commission’s proposal to cut out inefficient electricity-only production of bioenergy would be an important step in the right direction to make the EU’s renewable energy mix more cost efficient.”

    Notes to editors:

    [1] The European Commission’s 2016 reference scenario

    Read more:

    Briefing: Cost-effective renewables in 2030 – Decreasing role for bioenergy