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Solar panels to become integral component of all EU buildings


In a landmark decision aimed at combating climate change and reducing energy consumption, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have overwhelmingly approved plans to revolutionize the energy efficiency of buildings across the European Union.

Zero-emission targets set for new building 

Starting from 2030, all new buildings constructed within the EU will be mandated to be zero-emission, with public authority-owned structures leading the way by achieving this target as early as 2028. This ambitious move aims to drastically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and sets a precedent for sustainable construction practices.

Agricultural and heritage buildings exempted

While the directive lays out stringent targets for emissions reduction, it also offers exemptions for certain types of buildings. Agricultural structures and heritage buildings will not be subjected to the same rules, allowing for flexibility in preserving historical and cultural landmarks. 

Phasing out fossil fuel boilers 

In a significant step towards reducing reliance on fossil fuels, member states are required to outline strategies for transitioning heating systems away from traditional boilers. By 2040, the aim is to completely phase out fossil fuels in heating and cooling, with subsidies for standalone fossil fuel boilers set to be prohibited as early as 2025.

Rapporteur emphasizes benefits for society

Ciarán Cuffe, the rapporteur for the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, highlighted the far-reaching benefits of the legislation, emphasizing its potential to alleviate energy poverty and create employment opportunities. He underscored its pivotal role in achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Next steps towards implementation 

With an overwhelming majority of 370 votes in favor, 199 against, and 46 abstentions, the directive has cleared a significant hurdle. However, formal endorsement by the Council of Ministers is still required for it to become law, marking the next crucial step in the journey towards a greener, more sustainable future. 

Aligned with EU's vision for sustainability

This legislative push aligns closely with the EU's broader vision for sustainability, as outlined in initiatives such as the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFE). By promoting energy independence, reducing dependency on imports, and supporting local energy efficiency projects, the EU aims to pave the way towards a more resilient and sustainable future.

Opinion from the sector

Jan Osenberg, Senior Policy Advisor at SolarPower Europe, emphasized the significance of the European Parliament's decision in adopting the EU Solar Standard, stating, "Today, the European Parliament reached a huge milestone to accelerate renewable deployment, by adopting the EU Solar Standard." He highlighted that the standard, effective from 2026, mandates solar rooftop installations across a significant portion of Europe's building stock, adding, "The EU Solar Standard puts the power in citizens’ hands and will enshrine the energy transition into the places where we sleep, work, and live."

Osenberg pointed out the benefits of localized energy generation, stating, "As the grid catches up to the energy transition, installing energy generation where we use energy will also help the grid, by keeping electricity local and empowering citizens." He emphasized the importance of citizen involvement in using electricity smartly, saying, "They can see when they are generating more electricity and can adjust their consumption accordingly."

Moreover, Osenberg stressed the need for effective implementation of the directive, stating, "The implementation of the Directive must translate law into reality, with effective integration into construction practices and building requirements." He suggested defining exemptions, support measures, and system design criteria, and advocated for drawing upon best practices established in nine European countries where similar measures have been implemented.

 

 

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