At an EU energy council meeting in Luxembourg on Friday, most EU states agreed to support the “no regrets” option, the most ambitious of the three low-carbon energy policy pathways agreed by the EU.

The European Union is currently in the early stages of developing a long term policy framework to 2030, as the current policy framework expires in 2020. The decision will be reflected in the EU’s Energy Roadmap 2050, and pave the way for discussions on the future European Energy Strategy.

In addition to “a substantially higher share of renewable energy in EU gross final energy consumption beyond 2020, including in 2030”, the 'no regrets' option calls for “smart and flexible infrastructure”, and “increased energy efficiency”. It also notes that the European renewable energy market will become “increasingly competitive” in the next decade.

The renewables industry is hoping that a long term policy framework will bring with it 2030 renewable energy targets, to help create a more stable investment environment. Currently, Europe only has one specific renewable energy target – to reach 20% renewables by 2020.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the UK’s REA, said: “This brings us one step closer to having 2030 targets for renewable energy. If the [UK] government’s Electricity Market Reform proposals are to work, investors must be confident that the momentum for renewables will remain continue beyond 2020.”

She added: “We have every confidence that of the three low carbon energy options, renewables will win out on cost and merit, but the existence of a target will reassure investors that the new market structure must be made to work for renewable energy.”