European quotas for renewable power mooted

Draft directive to harmonise renewable electricity support will insist on competition

A draft directive about to be published by the European Commission will propose requiring all EU countries to make at least 5% of their electricity renewable, according to a report in the magazine Windpower Monthly, which was confirmed by a Commission official today.

The proposed quota is just below the 5.44% share of renewables in EU electricity supply in 1995, but would require a big increase in production in countries such as Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the UK where the contribution is currently much smaller than the average.

The draft law will propose limiting the ways that EU member states can support renewable electricity projects and is being drafted as a Union-wide shift to more deregulated power markets gets underway (ENDS Daily 18 March).

According to Windpower Monthly the Commission is set to anger German renewable energy producers by insisting on a "transition towards more competition and a trade-based system" for renewables support.

German grid operators are currently obliged to purchase renewable electricity at premium tariffs. German wind energy producers, in particular, have flourished under the system, with German wind capacity growing to become the largest in the world (ENDS Daily 12 February). The industry is strongly opposed to any dismantling of the scheme (ENDS Daily 20 November).

More market-based systems such as the UK's non-fossil fuel obligation have not led to such a big increase in renewable energy capacity. But they have imposed downward pressure on the costs of renewables, their supporters say.

Opting for the latter option, the Commission is set to demand that countries with subsidy or price-fixing schemes adapt their schemes to make them more compatible with the free market. According to Windpower Monthly, countries with subsidy or price-fixing schemes would be allowed a transition period until 2010 to comply.

The draft directive is also likely to contain proposals on harmonising "green electricity" policies so that national schemes are mutually acceptable in all EU countries. It will also insist that member states remove barriers to grid access for renewables, suggesting that simplified procedures are put in place for smaller generating companies to plug their power into networks.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 295 1111.

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