Commission Presents Renewable Energy Progress Report

The European Commission yesterday presented its communication on the progress of renewable energy towards the 2020 target plus three background reports. While the report does not include a proposal for a harmonization of national renewable energy support schemes, it advocates for a greater convergence of the national schemes, offering the Commission’s help.

The new policy approach of setting a precise target in the Renewable Energy Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC of 23 April 2009) of a 20% share of renewable energy sources by 2020 pays off, the communication points out. Renewable energy enjoys high growth rates. “If all these production forecasts are fulfilled, the overall share of renewable energy in the EU will exceed the 20% target in 2020”, the Commission says.

This has a number of implications for the electricity systems, the report stresses. Grids have to be modernized so as to be able to integrate large volumes of electricity produced from renewable sources. Besides, networks have to become more interconnected and flexible, using smart grid technology.

A large part of the communication is devoted to the Commissions concern of ensuring that the money spent on renewable energy is used cost effectively. Effective selection and coordination of financing tools at national and EU level is essential, the Commission emphasizes.

“For both Member State and European financing of renewable energy, it is clear that the existing framework must be improved, if the EU is to reach its 2020 targets at the lowest possible cost”, the Commission points out. It does, however, not include a proposal for a harmonization of national support schemes, as feared by the renewable energy industry in Germany. The German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) and other industry associations criticized the Commission in the recent weeks for what they perceived as efforts to abolish the German support scheme. Federal Environment Minister Röttgen also rejected the idea. Major utilities as well as BDEW, the federal association of the electricity and water industry welcomed such plans, as they had repeatedly criticized feed-in tariffs, in particular solar feed-in tariffs, as excessive.

Instead the Commission invites Member States to:

  • implement the National Renewable Energy Action Plans;
  • streamline infrastructure planning regimes while respecting existing EU environmental legislation and strive to conform to best practice;
  • make faster progress in developing the electricity grid to balance higher shares of renewable energy;
  • develop cooperation mechanisms and start integrating renewable energy into the European market;
  • ensure that any reforms of existing national support schemes will guarantee the stability for investors, avoiding retroactive changes.

The Commission intends to work in partnership with Member States on the implementation of the Directive, to review and improve the effectiveness of EU funding for renewable energy projects and facilitate the convergence of national support schemes.

Source: European Commission

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