It's a great step forward acknowledging solar heating and cooling to be a key factor for climate protection: For the first time, heating and cooling is covered by an European Directive. The new Energy Directive was adopted with 634 votes in favour and only 25 against and 25 absent in the European Parliament at the 17th December 2008.
The new directive lays out mandatory national targets that member states are to achieve by promoting the use of renewable energy in the electricity, heating and cooling and transport sectors - all of this in order to ensure that by 2020, renewable energy makes up at least 20% of the EU's total energy consumption.
âThus, the Directive creates a positive climate for the long-term development of solar thermal technologies in Europeâ, says the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) in a press release. The most important paragraph for solar thermal is Article 12 (4), where it is written that: âMember states shall introduce in their building regulations and codes appropriate measures in order to increase the share of all kinds of energy from renewable sources in the building sector.â This was a central demand that ESTIF promoted for years.
Every word counts in these stipulations. And that's why ESTIF is not a hundred percent satisfied with the following sentence of Article 12 (4). âIn these building regulations and codes or any way with equivalent effect, member states shall by 2015 at the latest, where appropriate, require the use of minimum levels of energy from renewable sources in new buildings and in existing buildings that are subject to major renovation.â The phrases âwhere appropriateâ and âany way with equivalent effectâ might weaken the implementation of renewable building codes in member states, Uwe Trenkner, ESTIF's general secretary, voices his concerns.
What comes next? The EU Council of Energy Ministers will adopt the directive in February 2009 â insiders do not have doubts about this. By June 2009, the European Commission will then deliver a template as a guideline for setting up the National Action Plans, detailing ways in which a member state will meet its 2020 targets. They have to be submitted to the Commission by June, 2010. Therefore, ESTIF will intensify its work with national associations to help them follow-up this process in their countries.
Download the latest version of the Energy Directive as it was adopted by the European Parliament at the 17th of December: www.solarthermalworld.org/files/Energy%20directive.pdf?download
More information: www.estif.org
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