21st century energy: Business reflections on renewables in EuropeThe Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group
In October 2014, the EU Council agreed a 2030 framework for climate and energy, which included a proposed renewables target of 27 per cent of energy consumption drawn from renewable energy sources by 2030, building on the EU’s previous target of 20 per cent by 2020.
As the EU implements its 2030 framework it does so in the context of a number of challenges, including the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, concerns about migration and populism, and a number of key national elections. As a result, climate and energy issues risk slipping down the EU’s agenda.
However, EU Member States remain committed to the 2030 framework and to the Energy Union initiative, which has been developed by the European Commission to update EU energy policy. Proposals for new EU legislation on renewable energy in particular have been subject to significant criticism from some Members across all stakeholder groups for the low level of ambition and the lack of binding Member State commitments.
This report was commissioned to gather views from a number of business sectors on the effectiveness of EU renewables policy in encouraging business to generate or use renewable energy, and how this could be improved for a new directive.
Of the 15 companies and business organisations sharing their views on these questions, many are known as pioneers for sustainability or ‘green’ business, and many are from sectors that would not obviously see direct benefits in transitioning to renewable energy. For most, the issue of energy production and supply is far from their core business and expertise, which makes the different approaches taken to tackling this area so interesting.
Some have taken direct action, moving into renewable energy generation, not only for their own consumption but also for the market, thereby diversifying their business model. Others have been content to leave production to established providers, but sought to ensure their own consumption is beyond reproach. They have tried to stimulate demand in the market by requiring renewable energy provision when tendering. We have highlighted some of the different approaches companies are adopting in the ‘How are companies innovating?’ section of this report.