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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Council of the European Union adopts new energy rules


Individual country flags of the European Union flying in front of building Photo: Adobe Stock
The Council of the European Union has formally adopted the revised Energy Efficiency Directive, AFIR and FuelEU maritime initiative, which form part of the EU’s Fit for 55 package

Photo: Adobe Stock

The Council of the European Union (EU) has formally adopted a raft of new energy rules, including a revised Energy Efficiency Directive, Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) and the FuelEU maritime initiative, that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.

The revised Energy Efficiency Directive will see EU member states collectively reduce final energy consumption by at least 11.7% in 2030, compared with the energy consumption forecasts for 2030 made in 2020. This translates into an upper limit to the EU’s final energy consumption of 763mn toe and of 993mn toe for primary consumption.


The limit for final consumption will be binding for member states collectively, whereas the primary energy consumption target will be ‘indicative’, notes the EC. Final energy consumption represents energy consumed by end-users, while primary energy consumption also includes what is used for the production and supply of energy.


All member states will contribute to achieving the overall EU target. They will set indicative national contributions and trajectories towards reaching the target in their integrated national energy and climate plans (NECPs). Draft updated NECPs were due in June 2023 and final plans are expected in June 2024. To date, only eight countries have submitted draft updated NECPs to the European Commission.


The current Energy Efficiency Directive, in force since December 2018, set a target of reducing both primary and final energy consumption by 32.5% by 2030 at the EU level, compared with the energy consumption forecasts for 2030 made in 2007.


Alternative fuels infrastructure
Meanwhile, more recharging and refuelling stations for alternative fuels will be deployed in coming years across Europe, enabling the transport sector to significantly reduce its carbon footprint, following the Council of the EU's formal adoption of the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR).


Specific deployment targets will have to be met in 2025 or 2030: 

  • From 2025 onwards, fast recharging stations of at least 150 kW for cars and vans need to be installed every 60 km along the EU’s main transport corridors, the so-called trans-European transport (TEN-T) network. 
  • Recharging stations for heavy-duty vehicles with a minimum output of 350 kW need to be deployed every 60 km along the TEN-T core network, and every 100 km on the larger TEN-T network from 2025 onwards, with complete network coverage by 2030. 
  • Hydrogen refuelling stations serving both cars and lorries must be deployed from 2030 onwards in all urban nodes and every 200 km along the TEN-T core network. 
  • Maritime ports welcoming a minimum number of large passenger vessels, or container vessels, must provide shore-side electricity for such vessels by 2030. 
  • Airports must provide electricity to stationary aircraft at all gates by 2025, and at all remote stands by 2030. 
  • Users of electric or hydrogen-fuelled vehicles must be able to pay easily at recharging or refuelling points with payment cards or contactless devices and without a need for a subscription and with full price transparency. 
  • Operators of recharging or refuelling points must provide consumers full information through electronic means on the availability, waiting time or price at different stations.


The new regulation will be published in the EU’s official journal after the summer and will enter into force the 20th day after publication. The new rules will apply from six months after the date of entry into force of the regulation.


Decarbonising the maritime sector
The Council of the EU has also formally adopted the FuelEU maritime initiative, a new law to decarbonise the maritime sector.


The main objective of the initiative is to ‘increase the demand for and consistent use of renewable and low-carbon fuels, and reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the shipping sector, while ensuring the smooth operation of maritime traffic and avoiding distortions in the internal market’.


The new legislation aims to put maritime transport on the trajectory of the EU’s climate targets for 2030 and 2050 and should play a fundamental role in delivering on the European climate law.


Its main provisions include:

  • Measures to ensure that the GHG intensity of fuels used by the shipping sector will gradually decrease over time, by 2% in 2025 to as much as 80% by 2050. 
  • A special incentive regime to support the uptake of the renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) with a high decarbonisation potential. 
  • An exclusion of fossil fuels from the regulation’s certification process. 
  • An obligation for passenger ships and containers to use onshore power supply for all electricity needs while moored at the quayside in major EU ports as of 2030, with a view to mitigating air pollution in ports, which are often close to densely populated areas. 
  • A voluntary pooling mechanism, under which ships will be allowed to pool their compliance balance with one or more other ships, with the pool – as a whole – having to meet the GHG intensity limits on average. 
  • Revenues generated from the regulation’s implementation (ie, FuelEU penalties) should be used for projects in support of the maritime sector’s decarbonisation with an enhanced transparency mechanism.


The bulk of the new rules under the FuelEU maritime initiative will apply from 1 January 2025, apart from articles 8 and 9 which relate to the monitoring plan, which will apply from 31 August 2024.


The revised Energy Efficiency Directive, AFIR and FuelEU maritime initiative form part of the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ package that aims to reduce the EU’s net GHG emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to achieve climate neutrality in 2050.