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News in Brief, BB200707

Progress: a new policy framework for the

12.07.2007

The European Commission continues to work on preparing a new framework legislation that will establish the rules on how to achieve the binding 20% target by 2020. At the moment, the details on the distribution of this target across Member States have not been made public.

Estimating the split of the 20% target without an indication of how much will come from electricity, heating, cooling and biofuels is much more difficult, and brings significant uncertainty to investors as well as other key actors involved in the planning of the energy infrastructure. It is for this reason that EWEA along with other renewable energy associations have repeatedly called for sector-specific targets in the three energy areas.

Other issues that still have to be tackled include the possibility of harmonising the support mechanism for renewable energies, whether a country can achieve part of the target through the excess renewable production of other Member States, and an eventual link between the ETS and the renewables directive.

EWEA contends that harmonisation of the support mechanisms should not become a key topic during the discussions, given that the electricity markets in Europe remain heterogeneous in all other aspects. In our view the creation of a truly integrated and competitive market must come first; this can only be done through more transparent access rules, a fight against dominant positions and the increase of interconnection capacity. Discussing harmonising support schemes for renewables at a time when all else remains divergent is meaningless. This would have no effect other than to dismantle some of the very efficient support systems that have been created in Europe, which until now have ensured a positive growth rate of renewables at a low cost.

In the same manner, the ETS and the RES debate should not be confused. Renewables are clearly environmentally-friendly and thus reduce GHG emissions, but they also play other important roles that cannot be captured by the ETS Directive, such as their contribution to the security of supply, fuel-price uncertainty and other environmental and health advantages, such as negligible emissions of NOx and SO2. These different benefits have to be captured by specific pieces of legislation, so that they serve the purposes for which they have been created.

At its current rate of progress it appears that the new legislation will not be tabled to the Council and the Parliament before November-December this year.

In the Parliament, the Industry Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) voted and adopted rapporteur Britta Thomson’s report on Monday 9th of July. The report constitutes Parliament’s input to the discussion on the Commission’s Renewable Energy Roadmap. A plenary vote is scheduled for September in Strasbourg, most likely on the 26th of September. On 14 December 2006, in response to the Commission’s Green Paper on a European strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy, the European Parliament called for a target of 25% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Finally, the Energy Council (6-8 June) held a policy debate on unbundling, effective regulation, adequate infrastructure investment and cooperation among network operators on the internal market of gas and electricity.

Among the priorities of the new Portuguese presidency, which started on the 1st of June, is the internal electricity and gas markets, as well as combating climate change. A specific seminar on how to achieve the 20% target by 2020 took place in Lisbon the 11th and 12th of July of this year. EWEA President, Arthouros Zervos, and EWEA CEO, Christian Kjaer, gave presentations at that seminar.

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