NGOs bid for stronger EU renewables law

Renewable energy, environmental, groups call for national quota system to support growth

European renewable energy industry and environmental groups have called on the European Commission to give a strong boost to renewables when it finally unveils its plans for a draft directive. Reiterating arguments made consistently since drafting first began in 1998, the groups demanded legally binding national quotas for renewables production and maximum flexibility for each EU country over financial support mechanisms.

Prepared by the European Renewable Energy Federation, the German Wind Energy Association and the World Wide Fund for Nature, the paper responds to a request for feedback on the directive made by EU energy commissioner Loyola de Palacio in December (ENDS Daily 3 December 1999). This marked the second time the Commission had shelved an almost completed legislative proposal, the first being last February (ENDS Daily 9 February 1999).

Legally binding minimum national targets for renewables production should be set so that the sector achieves 23.5% of total EU energy consumption by 2010, the groups say. Individual countries would still have flexibility to set more or less ambitious targets depending on their starting point, however.

The second key demand of flexibility for member states on how they support renewable energy is designed to safeguard fixed price schemes. Germany has achieved world leader status in installed wind turbines through such a scheme, but the approach is viewed by the Commission as potentially in conflict with the EU's single market.

The groups' propose that the EU should explicitly permit direct price support schemes as compensation payments to renewable energy producers, as well as tax differentials. Among other provisions, member states would be obligated to reduce direct and indirect subsidies for conventional energy sources "until a level field is achieved," and all external costs are fully internalised. Consumers would also be given a detailed break-down twice a year of how their electricity was generated.

Follow Up:
European Renewable Energies Federation, tel: +32 2 672 4367; WWF European Policy Office, tel: +32 2 743 8800.

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