Eurofuel newsletter #5

Dear reader,

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Eurofuel newsletter of 2023. In this edition we dive back into the legislative season after the summer break, taking stock of some significant developments that occurred in the last few weeks, while looking at the next key dates for the oil heating industry and the broader energy sector.

This year’s summer has been full of news for the European energy sector. Most significantly, just before the end of summer recess, EU Vice President and Green Deal chief Frans Timmermans resigned from his post to run in the upcoming Dutch election. The move, which comes less than a year before the European elections, is inevitably shaking the balance of power within the Commission and it will be interesting to see how it will impact the final steps of the Green Deal agenda.

On the other hand, the result of the public consultation on the EU climate targets for 2040 have been published, revealing, unsurprisingly, strong differences between industry and green groups on the future direction of travel. Given the most recent reports on the increasingly diverging path of solar and wind energy deployment in the EU, the consultation does seem to call for a more nuanced approach to meet the ambitious climate and energy goals set for 2030 and beyond.

Against this background, however, we shall not forget that tricky negotiations await on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, with the second trilogue scheduled to take place on 31 August. All the while, the Commission continues its work to refine the upcoming new rules for the ecodesign of space heaters. Both files are crucial for our industry - even more so in these turbulent times. With this in mind, EUROFUEL will continue to advocate for a balanced and fair approach to the energy transition, one that considers both technological innovation and consumer interests.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Ernst-Moritz Bellingen
President, EUROFUEL


Commission VP Maroš Šefčovič takes over Green Deal portfolio from Frans Timmermans

In a widely anticipated turn of events, on 22 August, Frans Timmermans quit his post as Commission Vice President and Green Deal chief. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accepted his resignation “with immediate effect,” according to the official statement. Timmermans will now formally be running for Dutch Prime Minister, representing the Dutch Labor and Green parties in the general elections scheduled for 22 November.

Timmermans, who also served as First Vice-President in the Junker Commission in 2014-2019, has been the most prominent figure leading the EU’s ambitious legislative agenda to make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. Moreover, during his tenure, he represented the bloc in international negotiations on climate change and coordinated the European Commission's work on the EU's biodiversity strategy, on a zero-pollution future and on the circular economy.

Overall, the now former Commission Vice-President imprint on the EU energy and climate files was undeniable, and his departure is bound to further complicate the race against time to complete the Green Deal before next year European elections. It is probably to mitigate the damage that the Green Deal portfolio and post of Executive Vice President have been assigned to another long-standing EU official, Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, who is currently Vice President for interinstitutional relations, and previously served as EU Energy Commissioner under the Juncker Commission. Šefčovič will also hold the climate action portfolio until the Netherlands nominates a new commissioner. Quite interestingly, however, according to the official statement, in his new job, Šefčovič’s priority will be to shift from pushing through new climate legislation to the successful roll-out of the European Green Deal as Europe’s growth strategy. “Our priority will be to strengthen Industrial Clean Innovation, upgrading our grids and infrastructure for the energy transition and access to Critical Raw Materials”, the statement reads. This policy shift is not so surprising, considering we are nearing the end of the Commission mandate and that most of the Green Deal files have been passed. Nevertheless, it is quite significant that the Commission has openly acknowledged the change in approach.

Regardless, considering his past expertise and his recent role in overseeing the EU efforts to co-ordinate gas purchases, it is expected that Sefčovič will keep close tabs on upcoming trilogues on critical energy files such as EPBD, Electricity Market Design and the Gas package. It will thus be imperative for us to closely monitor his actions in the coming months.

Answers to EU consultation shows contrasting views of the 2040 climate targets

Amidst growing urgency for climate action, and just a few months ahead of the COP28 summit in Dubai, the EU Commission's recent consultation on the Union's 2040 climate target reveals a strong public desire for accelerated efforts, particularly in the transport sector.

The consultation period spanned from late March to the end of June, capturing a total of 879 responses. The feedback was diverse, with approximately 53% coming from EU citizens and 28% from companies and trade associations. Notably, Germany led the EU countries in participation, contributing to 27% of the total responses.

Overall, some 46% of individuals backed a target of more than 90% emissions reduction, compared to 30% of organisations (including companies, civil society groups, public authorities and research institutes). A target of between 80%-90% was supported by 24% of individuals and 21% of organisations; a 75%-80% cut was supported by 11% and 24% respectively. Interestingly, the consultation also revealed a preference for a tripartite approach to climate change targets, focusing on greenhouse gas reductions, nature-based removals, and industrial CO2 removals from the atmosphere. Nature-based removals slightly edged out the other categories in terms of preference. However, a division emerged on the overall importance of CO2 removal for achieving climate neutrality by 2050, with science, the public sector, and companies attributing high significance to it. Concerning the general policy framework for emission trading, most respondents suggested prioritising sectors with the highest absolute emissions for inclusion under CBAM, citing specifically transport emissions, chemicals and polymers, and agriculture.

graph emission

In your opinion, what should be the next emission reduction target for 2040 to put the EU on track to meeting the 2050 climate neutrality target?

As the EU Commission continues to refine its climate policies, this consultation serves as a valuable snapshot of public and industry sentiment, highlighting the need for robust, multi-faceted strategies to meet the ambitious climate goals for 2040 and beyond.


Recent data on solar and wind deployments showcase mixed bag of EU path towards net-zero

As the EU intensifies its commitment to renewable energy, new data reveals diverging paths for solar and wind power. While the majority of EU nations are set to achieve their 2030 solar power targets well in advance, the outlook for wind energy is less optimistic. This comes as the EU aims to increase the share of renewables in its overall energy mix to 42.5% by 2030, in line with its Green Deal and REPowerEU initiatives, particularly in the wake of the energy crisis triggered by Russia's actions in Ukraine.


According to SolarPower Europe, the Brussels-based lobby association of the solar PV sector, solar energy is experiencing a surge, with the EU adding 41 GW of new capacity in 2022 — a 40% increase from the previous year. Overall, 23 countries are on track to meet their solar installation goals by 2027. This rapid expansion has led the International Energy Agency to revise its renewable energy forecasts for the EU upwards by 38%. The solar boom is also making a significant dent in CO2 emissions, saving an estimated 230 million tons last year alone.

In contrast, the wind sector faces mounting challenges. Analysts, including Muhammad Bilal from Rystad energy consultancy, express scepticism about the EU meeting its 2030 wind energy targets. Factors such as slow permitting processes and complex regulations are hindering progress. A recent report from WindEurope indicates that the EU added a mere 1.3 GW of new offshore wind capacity in the first half of this year, far short of the annual 11 GW needed to meet targets. This shortfall is attributed to both economic pressures and policy decisions, including changes in subsidy models.

This underscores the need for a fact-based debate on the feasibility of achieving EU climate targets solely through electrification. While solar energy shows promise, the challenges facing wind energy highlight the complexities and potential pitfalls of a one-size-fits-all approach to the energy transition. Diversified strategies that consider the unique challenges and opportunities of each energy source are crucial for a balanced and effective transition to a sustainable energy landscape. As the EU refines its renewable energy policies, these contrasting trajectories for solar and wind power offer valuable insights. They emphasise the need for nuanced, adaptable strategies that can meet the ambitious climate and energy goals set for 2030 and beyond.