EU reaches deal on REDII, sets new goals for renewables

▪ EU reaches deal on REDII, sets new goals for renewables

On June 14, negotiators from the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council reached a deal on a revised Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) that sets new targets for renewables.

Information released by the European Parliament notes that the provisional agreement calls for energy from renewables to account for at least 32 percent of the EU’s gross final energy consumption in 2030, with an upwards revision clause by 2023. The agreement implements an “energy-efficiency first” principle, which means that measures to make energy demand and supply more efficient will be prioritized in all energy planning, policy and investment decisions.

For biofuels, the agreement states that at least 14 percent of transportation fuel must come from renewable sources by 2030. First-generation, crop-based biofuels are capped at 2020 levels—with an extra 1 percent—but cannot exceed 7 percent of final consumption of road and rail transport. In addition, the share of advanced biofuels and biogas must be at least 1 percent in 2025 and at least 3.5 percent in 2030. Food crops, such as palm oil, that result in high indirect land use change (ILUC) are to be phased out through a certification process for low-ILUC biofuels.

Under the provisional deal, member states must ensure that an EU consumer is entitled to become a renewable self-consumer. This includes the ability to generate renewable energy for their own consumption, and store and sell excess production, among other requirements.

For the heating and cooling sector, the provisional deal provides a sub-target of an indicative 1.3 percent yearly increase of renewables in heating and cooling installations, calculated on a period of 5 years starting from 2021.

According to the European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), the REDII agreement will also set the first European-wide sustainability criteria for solid biomass. In a statement, AEBIOM said it welcomes the risk-based approach, including the 20 MW threshold and criteria themselves.

An infographic published by AEBIOM explains that for bioenergy to account toward the overall renewable energy targets and gain public financial support, the biomass will need to meet sustainability and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission saving criteria. Exemptions are given to waste and industrial residues, for which only GHG criteria and a few other elements apply. Exemptions are also given to installations below 20 MW for solid biomass fuels and 2 MW for gaseous biomass fuels, unless member states decide otherwise.

The GHG savings criteria for biofuels, biogas and bioliquids begin at 50 percent before 2015, and increase to 60 percent after 2015 and 65 percent after 2021. For electricity, heating and cooling production from biomass fuels, the GHG reduction criteria are set at 70 percent after 2021 and 80 percent after 2026. Percentage reductions are compared to fossil fuels.

For electricity-only installations, energy generated will only be accounted to targets and supports if fossil fuel is not used as the main fuel; if facilities of 50-100 MW meet best available technology associated energy efficiency levels or use biomass carbon capture and storage (CCS); and if facilities above 1000 MW have an electrical efficiency of 36 percent or apply biomass CCS.

A range of sustainability criteria are set for both agricultural biomass and for forestry biomass.

In a statement, AEBIOM said the approach ensures that biomass is produced sustainably, irrespective of geographical origin, without creating unnecessary administrative burden on small installations and countries with a well-established system of forest management. AEBIOM also noted the provisional deal also recognizes the role of co-firing, allowing bioenergy to play a key role in energy transition while ensuring that biomass is not prolonging the life of old coal installations.

“You will always find people to complain about the criteria,” said Jean-Marc Jossart, AEBIOM secretary-general. “But for the first time the European legislators gives a sustainability roadmap to the solid bioenergy sector. Despite controversy, policy makers decided to take a challenging but pragmatic approach considering field realities.”

ePURE, the European renewable ethanol association, said the provisional deal recognizes the importance of crop-based ethanol in achieving climate goals.

“Europe needs all sustainable renewables in the energy transition to achieve Europe’s climate goals and ethanol is critical to transport decarbonisation,” said Emmanuel Desplechin, secretary general of ePURE. “Of course, this is not a perfect solution. Allowing Member States to undermine the transport target by lowering the crop cap or relying on artificial multipliers gives the illusion of progress and puts Europe’s commitment to decarbonizing transport into question. Capping crop-based biofuels at 2020 levels also unfairly penalizes sustainable biofuels like European renewable ethanol, which if given the chance could drive EU decarbonization even further—but it is a major improvement over the initial proposal from the Commission.”

“Member States should now get on with the work of implementing the 2020 objectives and show that Europe is a place that can provide the policy stability investors need. A solid crop-based ethanol industry is needed to spur investment in advanced ethanol,” Desplechin said.

Novozymes has also spoken out on the provisional deal. Tina Sejersgård Fanø, executive vice president of agriculture and bioenergy at Novozymes, said the compromise on REDII should provide necessary clarity and direction for investment, but criticized the deal for limiting the contribution of sustainable conventional biofuels.

“That is at odds with the international consensus that they are necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement. All good solutions are needed in the energy transition required to achieve Europe’s climate goals—and sustainable biofuels are critical to transport decarbonisation,” Sejersgård Fanø said. “We also regret the amount of multipliers that can be used to achieve the transport target; these are misleading European citizens on the real level of ambition—and provide more space for the continuous use of fossil fuels in transport. We believe it is important now that Member States quickly implement the REDII into ambitious, national legislation, with limited use of multipliers, to ensure that investments in renewables are made early on—and for Europe to be on track to achieve net zero carbon emissions by the mid-century.”

Now that a provisional deal on the REDII has been reached, the text of the directive must be formally approved the European Parliament and the Council. Once endorsed by both co-legislators in the coming months, the REDII will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member states will then have to transpose the new elements of the directive into national law 18 months after its entry into force.

▪ Kolkata Becoming India’s Worst Air Pollution City

Will Kolkata soon wrest the country’s pollution capital crown from Delhi? Delhi may be vying with Beijing for global topper status in air pollution and garnering all the attention for polluted air, but Kolkata has silently pushed Delhi behind on the air quality index and turned the toxic topper among metro cities in India during the first two months of 2018.

Experts warn that the actual air quality in Kolkata may be even poorer, and hence the difference of Kolkata and Delhi’s pollution levels are even wider, as air pollution in the eastern Indian city is measured manually, which tends to underestimate the pollution figures. Further, while a slew of actions on prodded by Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal have been taken to combat toxic air pollution in Delhi, Kolkata is yet to even devise a concrete road map for tackling foul air.

An analysis of the official air quality index (AQI) data of different metro cities — West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) for Kolkata and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data for rest of the cities — for the months of January and February found that Kolkata’s average AQI at 295 parts per million during the period was higher than Delhi at 287 ppm.

The figure was just short of the ‘very poor’ AQI category — which starts at 300 ppm — that may trigger respiratory illnesses among people on prolonged exposure over and above exacerbating problems of those already affected. Out of 59 days in January and February, Kolkata’s pollution level was worse than Delhi on 32 days and was more than double of Delhi’s pollution level on some days.

Kolkata’s air stood almost twice as polluted compared with other metros like Mumbai (AQI of 155), Chennai (127), Bangalore (88) and Hyderabad (130) during the period. The AQI has been calculated on basis of dominant pollutant, PM 2.5 in most cases, measured in automatic stations. In the case of Kolkata, the readings of four manual stations — Behala Chowrasta, Minto Park, Moulali and Shyambazar — were considered, as the city’s automatic stations have been non-functional for the past few months.

However, even before becoming non-functional, they were not used to measure PM 2.5, which is the most potent air pollutant, and can penetrate the innermost crevices of lungs and trigger a bevy of diseases. “The actual scenario may be even poorer as manual stations tend to under-calculate the pollution figures,” Dipankar Saha, a CPCB scientist, told

Considering the two months separately, Kolkata was found to be at par with Delhi on the pollution count during January. The average AQI values were 328 and 327 in Delhi and Kolkata, respectively. Kolkata’s air worsened in February with an average AQI score of 260 versus 243 in 36 Delhi. Kolkata’s air quality was found to be comparable to Faridabad and Ghaziabad, two of the most highly polluted cities in country as per the CPCB list, which recorded AQI values of 298 and 349 between January 1 and February 28.

The data refutes the claim of the West Bengal government that state capital’s air quality is much better than that of Delhi. Sometime back, state environment minister Sovan Chatterjee rubbished the notion that Kolkata’s air quality is poorer than Delhi, alleging that the media had been jumping to “false conclusions” by only comparing the single point data generated atop US Consulate in Kolkata and the US Embassy in Delhi, which is unscientific. “Kolkata’s air is much better than Delhi and one of the best in world,” the minister had told in an earlier interview.

Experts are unanimous that Kolkata’s bane is vehicular emission, particularly from diesel vehicles. The city has a two million strong fleet of vehicles, out of which about 50% run on diesel. More important, the diesel fleet includes over 95% of the city’s commercial vehicles. The diesel capital status of Kolkata is the biggest hurdle for the city to combat burgeoning air pollution, experts say. “Nearly two lakh (200,000) commercial vehicles, many of which are old and poorly maintained, are the worst offenders for ultrafine particulates, PM 2.5, pollution,” emissions expert Somendra Mohon Ghosh told

▪ Energy efficiency first: EU Commission welcomes agreement on energy efficiency

A political agreement on new rules for improving energy efficiency in Europe was reached on 18-June, between negotiators from the Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council.

The Commission's proposal forms part of the implementation of the Juncker Commission priorities – in particular "a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy". Today's agreement is the third of eight legislative proposals in the Clean Energy for All Europeans package (presented by the European Commission on 30 November 2016) now agreed by co-legislators. On 14 June a political agreement was reached on the revised Renewable Energy Directive, and on 14 May, the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive was adopted. Thus progress towards making the Energy Union a reality is well under way and the work initiated by the Juncker Commission is being delivered.

The new regulatory framework includes an energy efficiency target for the EU for 2030 of 32.5% with an upwards revision clause by 2023. This new objective shows the EU's high level of ambition and demonstrates the remarkable pace of change of new technologies and reduced costs through economies of scale. Together with the recently agreed 32% renewable energy target for the EU for 2030, Europe will be equipped to complete the clean energy transition and meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement. Delivering on President Juncker's objective to support the clean energy transition, with today's agreement the EU is helping to create growth, employment and investment opportunities for the benefit of European energy consumers.

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "Europe is by far the largest importer of fossil fuel in the world. Today we put an end to this. This deal is a major push for Europe's energy independence. Much of what we spend on imported fossil fuels will now be invested at home in more efficient buildings, industries and transport. The new target of 32.5% will boost our industrial competitiveness, create jobs, reduce energy bills, help tackle energy poverty and improve air quality. Our path to real energy security and climate protection begins here at home, and this deal shows Europe's determination to build a modern economy that is less dependent on imported energy and with more domestically produced clean energy".  

Main achievements:

  • Sets a new energy efficiency target for the EU for 2030 of 32.5%, with an upwards revision clause by 2023;
  • Will extend the annual energy saving obligation beyond 2020, which will attract private investments and support the emergence of new market actors;
  • Will deliver real energy savings in the next period 2021-2030 and beyond, coming from new energy efficiency renovations or other measures undertaken in the next decade;
  • Will strengthen rules on individual metering and billing of thermal energy by giving consumers - especially those in multi-apartment building with collective heating systems – clearer rights to receive more frequent and more useful information on their energy consumption, enabling them to better understand and control their heating bills.
  • Will require Member States to have in place transparent, publicly available national rules on the allocation of the cost of heating, cooling and hot water consumption in multi-apartment and multi-purpose buildings with collective systems for such services.
  • Will tackle existing market, behavioural and regulatory barriers in order to increase security of supply, competitiveness of EU industries, reduce energy bills of consumers and health costs for society, thereby also addressing energy poverty and exploiting the positive impacts on economic growth and employment.

Next steps

Following this political agreement, the text of the Directive will have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council. Once endorsed by both co-legislators in the coming months, the updated Energy Efficiency Directive will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member States will have to transpose the new elements of the Directive into national law 18 months after its entry into force.


The revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive is part and parcel of the implementation of the Juncker Commission priorities to build "a resilient Energy Union and a forward-looking climate change policy". The Commission wants the EU to lead the clean energy transition. For this reason the EU has committed to cut CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 while modernising the EU's economy and delivering on jobs and growth for all European citizens. In doing so, the Commission is guided by three main goals: putting energy efficiency first, achieving global leadership in renewable energies and providing a fair deal for consumers.

By using energy more efficiently, Europeans can lower their energy bills, live in more comfortable and healthy dwellings, reduce their reliance on external suppliers of oil and gas, improve local air quality, and help protect the environment. Energy efficiency has to be increased at all stages of the energy chain, from generation to final consumption. At the same time, the benefits of energy efficiency must outweigh the costs, for instance those that result from carrying out renovations. EU measures therefore focus on sectors where the potential for savings is greatest, such as buildings. The EU has set itself a 20% energy savings target by 2020 (when compared to the projected use of energy in 2020). On 30 November 2016 the Commission proposed an update to the Energy Efficiency Directive including a new energy efficiency target for 2030, and measures to update the Directive to make sure the new target is met.

▪ WHO report – May 2018: Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health

Key facts

  • Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.
  • The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, both long- and short-term.
  • The WHO Air Quality Guidelines: Global Update 2005 provide an assessment of health effects of air pollution and thresholds for health-harmful pollution levels.
  • In 2016, 91% of the world population was living in places where the WHO air quality guidelines levels were not met.
  • Ambient (outdoor air pollution) in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2016.
  • Some 91% of those premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
  • Policies and investments supporting cleaner transport, energy-efficient homes, power generation, industry and better municipal waste management would reduce key sources of outdoor air pollution.
  • In addition to outdoor air pollution, indoor smoke is a serious health risk for some 3 billion people who cook and heat their homes with biomass, kerosene fuels and coal.


Outdoor air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting everyone in low, middle, and high-income countries.

Ambient (outdoor) air pollution in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide per year in 2016; this mortality is due to exposure to small particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5), which cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers.

People living in low- and middle-income countries disproportionately experience the burden of outdoor air pollution with 91% (of the 4.2 million premature deaths) occurring in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest burden in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions. The latest burden estimates reflect the very significant role air pollution plays in cardiovascular illness and death. More and more, evidence demonstrating the linkages between ambient air pollution and the cardiovascular disease risk is becoming available, including studies from highly polluted areas.

WHO estimates that in 2016, outdoor air pollution was responsible for 17% of all adult deaths from ischaemic heart disease, 14% from stroke, 25% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 16% from lung cancer, and 26% from all deaths from acute lower respiratory infections.

Some deaths may be attributed to more than one risk factor at the same time. For example, both smoking and ambient air pollution affect lung cancer. Some lung cancer deaths could have been averted by improving ambient air quality, or by reducing tobacco smoking.

A 2013 assessment by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that outdoor air pollution is carcinogenic to humans, with the particulate matter component of air pollution most closely associated with increased cancer incidence, especially lung cancer. An association also has been observed between outdoor air pollution and increase in cancer of the urinary tract/bladder.

Addressing all risk factors for non-communicable diseases – including air pollution - is key to protecting public health.

Most sources of outdoor air pollution are well beyond the control of individuals and demands concerted action by local, national, and regional level policy-makers working in sectors like transport, energy, waste management, urban planning, and agriculture.

There are many examples of successful policies in transport, urban planning, power generation and industry that reduce air pollution:

  • for industry: clean technologies that reduce industrial smokestack emissions; improved management of urban and agricultural waste, including capture of methane gas emitted from waste sites as an alternative to incineration (for use as biogas);
  • for energy: ensuring access to affordable clean household energy solutions for cooking, heating and lighting;
  • for transport: shifting to clean modes of power generation; prioritizing rapid urban transit, walking and cycling networks in cities as well as rail interurban freight and passenger travel; shifting to cleaner heavy-duty diesel vehicles and low-emissions vehicles and fuels, including fuels with reduced sulfur content;
  • for urban planning: improving the energy efficiency of buildings and making cities more green and compact, and thus energy efficient;
  • for power generation: increased use of low-emissions fuels and renewable combustion-free power sources (like solar, wind or hydropower); co-generation of heat and power; and distributed energy generation (e.g. mini-grids and rooftop solar power generation);
  • for municipal and agricultural waste management: strategies for waste reduction, waste separation, recycling and reuse or waste reprocessing; as well as improved methods of biological waste management such as anaerobic waste digestion to produce biogas, are feasible, low cost alternatives to the open incineration of solid waste. Where incineration is unavoidable, then combustion technologies with strict emission controls are critical.

In addition to outdoor air pollution, indoor smoke from household air pollution is a serious health risk for some 3 billion people who cook and heat their homes with biomass fuels and coal. Some 3.8 million premature deaths were attributable to household air pollution in 2016. Almost all of the burden was in low-middle-income countries. Household air pollution is also a major source of outdoor air pollution in both urban and rural areas.

The 2005 WHO Air quality guidelines offer global guidance on thresholds and limits for key air pollutants that pose health risks. The Guidelines indicate that by reducing particulate matter (PM10) pollution from 70 to 20 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m), we can cut air pollution-related deaths by around 15%.

The Guidelines apply worldwide and are based on expert evaluation of current scientific evidence for:

  • particulate matter (PM)
  • ozone (O3)
  • nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • sulfur dioxide (SO2)

▪ China to take aim at diesel vehicles in new smog push

Diesel trucks accounted for just 7.8 percent of China’s total vehicles, but contributed as much as 57.3 percent of the country’s total nitrogen oxide emissions and more than three quarters of airborne particulate matter, according to data from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE).

The crackdown will strengthen scrutiny on fuel and engine quality and restrict car freight, the China Daily said, quoting ministry officials.

Total car ownership reached 310 million last year, up 5.1 percent compared to 2016, with diesel-fuelled vehicles accounting for 9.4 percent of the total, the MEE said in a report on vehicle pollution published last Friday.

It said total pollution discharges from vehicles stood at 43.6 million tonnes in 2017, down 2.5 percent on the year, with the bulk of the emissions consisting of carbon monoxide. It also said attention needed to be paid to the 768 gigawatts of diesel-fired agricultural equipment across the country.

In a separate statement, the ministry warned that vehicle emissions like nitrogen oxides had fallen much more slowly than others, and it promised to speed up the implementation of pollution prevention and control measures for diesel trucks.

As part of its war on pollution, China has taken more than 20 million outdated vehicles off the roads over the last five years, and the country routinely restricts traffic during smog build-ups.

It has also taken action to limit road deliveries of coal in key regions like Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Yangtze river delta.

But experts have urged the country to adopt tougher measures against vehicle pollution, including congestion charges, as they bid to cut air pollution concentrations further.

▪ Shell and Airflow Truck demonstrate 248% improvement in freight ton efficiency with Starship truck

Shell and AirFlow Truck Company announced the successful completion and the results from the U.S. coast-to-coast run of the Starship Truck, attaining 178.4 tonne-miles per gallon [68.9 tonne-kilometers per liter] in freight tonne efficiency (FTE). Shell said the Starship demonstration truck achieved 2.5 times higher fuel efficiency than the North American average of 72 tonne-miles per gallon [27.8 tonne-kilometers per liter].

Freight ton efficiency is considered a more relevant statistic for judging the energy intensity associated with moving cargo from point A to point B since it combines the weight of cargo being moved with the amount of fuel consumed.

The U.S benchmark figures are in the middle ground when compared to the average figures for Asia and Europe.

This journey marks the first time that a prototype Class 8 truck has driven coast-to-coast across the U.S, traveling more than 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) in real-world trucking operations and in real-world conditions, including unplanned stops and torrential rains.

In addition, the Starship’s total average fuel economy stood at 8.94 US miles per gallon [3.8 kilometers per liter], beating the U.S. average of 6.4 US miles per gallon [2.7 kilometers per liter. The best fuel economy attained during the drive was 10.2 US miles per gallon [4.2 kilometers per liter].

It was also estimated that if all two million trucks in the U.S. reached the overall fuel economy and freight tonne efficiency performance of Starship, there would be 229 million less tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.

These measurements were verified by an independent third party, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, using an onboard telematics system. The results are timely, as the global trucking sector seeks to “go further with less”; to reduce fuel consumption while maximizing load to lower costs and to meet fuel economy regulations.

The final total truck and cargo weight was about 33,112 kilograms (73,000 pounds) with a payload weight of 18,098 kilograms (39,900 pounds). This was comprised of clean reef material destined for new offshore reef installation in Florida.

“We are proud that the Starship Truck was able to complete the coast-to-coast run in real-world trucking operations and conditions, including torrential rains. Our goal with this initiative is to challenge how the trucking industry defines trucking efficiency and further discussions with AirFlow Truck Company and other manufacturers,” said Robert Mainwaring, technology manager for innovation, Shell Lubricants.

“Through this road trip, we tested the Starship truck, using technologies available today, to provide insight into how trucking fleets and owner/operators could reduce fuel use and emissions as they haul heavy loads. This includes optimized aerodynamics, drivetrain and operational efficiencies, and low viscosity lubricants,” he added.

“These and other learnings are far from the final results, it is simply the start of our ongoing learning,” added Mainwaring. “We’ll move forward to apply learnings from this test run and implement additional technologies on the truck for future testing. While it would be easy to say the Starship Initiative has been very successful, we know there is more we can do to continue to drive industry dialogue in the future.”

The strong freight tonne efficiency result is attributed to a combination of Shell lubricants technology, enhanced aerodynamics – including customized carbon fiber cab and full side skirts along the length of the trailer – Cummins X-15 efficiency engine, low rolling resistance tires and a smart driving strategy. The vehicle was lubricated by a Shell low viscosity, fully synthetic heavy-duty engine oil which provides protection against wear, deposits and oil breakdown as well as

Shell transmission oils, differential oils and wheel hub oils. The engine oil technology shares the same viscosity as Shell Rimula Ultra E+ and is being tested by OEMs around the world.

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