Replacing fossil fuels with green energy

As we tackle the climate crisis, we need to move away from fossil fuels and towards more green energy like wind, solar and hydropower. If the EU is to reach its climate objectives, it needs to decarbonise its energy system by 2050. This energy transformation will take systemic change – the power of the law will play a key role.

Until recently, law and policy across Europe has supported an energy system based on centralised production from fossil fuels. As the EU transitions to renewable energy sources, there will be a greater need for decentralised, variable sources of energy where individuals produce their own energy and help to manage demand.

The power of community energy

In 2018, to kick-start the transition to renewables, the EU published a series of laws called the ‘Clean Energy Package’. These laws set out a binding objective for the EU to generate 32% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. The laws also empowered European citizens and their communities to play a role in building a cleaner, more efficient energy future.

Europeans are now able to form ‘energy communities’ which means they can produce, consume, store and sell renewable energy, without being subject to punitive taxes or overly complex systems. A system focused on community energy has huge potential and will enable the EU to achieve its energy market transformation more quickly.

In fact, a report by CE Delft found that over 264 million EU citizens, half of the population, could be producing their own electricity by 2050, meeting 45% of the EU’s electricity demand.

What’s holding us back?

Greater rights and legal protections have led to increasing numbers of individuals producing, storing and selling their own renewable energy across Europe.

But community power projects across Europe operate in very different legal contexts. In many EU countries, existing legislation does not provide sufficient support for, and in some cases actively impedes, community ownership.

At ClientEarth our lawyers are championing policies that pave the way for a cleaner energy system and working to remove legal obstacles in the EU energy market.

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