The German newspaper “Die Welt” reports (in German) on plans for renewable energy policies at the EU level.
One is a proposal by a Member of the European Parliament to introduce an EU-wide renewable portfolio standard. That proposal will be given a vote some time next year.
On the other hand, the European Parliament can’t initiate any legislation on their own, they would need the Commission to propose a Directive.
The article also says that the Commission favors some kind of EU-wide renewable portfolio standard.
It remains to be seen what will become of these ideas. I don’t necessarily object to an EU-wide renewable portfolio standard, as long as Member States are free to keep their existing feed-in tariff legislation.
Right now most Member States have feed-in tariffs, and some have renewable portfolio standards. Page 6 of this Commission Staff Working Document from this summer gives an overview.
According to that, there are only four Member States that don’t have some kind or other of feed-in tariff, and eight Member States have a renewable portfolio standard (including Italy and the United Kingdom).
Right now, there is neither a renewable portfolio standard nor a feed-in tariff at the EU level. And Germany, probably the most important feed-in tariff country, actually restricts the feed-in tariff to electricity produced in Germany. You can’t build a wind farm in France close to the German border and sell into the German feed-in tariff. That is an exception to the general principle of the EU that people are free to sell everywhere at non-discriminatory conditions.
There is, however, the possibility for two or more Member States to join their feed-in tariff systems (or any other support policy) under Article 11 of Directive 2009/28. That article allows the Member States concerned to count the resulting renewable energy in a way decided by them on their targets for 2020 under the Directive.
It says nothing on the question how a joint feed-in tariff for example between France and Germany would work. That is left for the Member States introducing such a joint support scheme to figure out.
Until this summer, there have been zero joint feed-in tariffs, see the Commission Staff Working document at page 14. There is however an organization called “International Feed-in Cooperation”, a joint project between Germany, Spain, Greece and Slovenia. That cooperation is limited to discussions and exchange of information at the moment.
Germany is helping Greece financially over the various new stability mechanisms. In contrast, there is still no framework in place to buy solar energy generated in Greece under the German feed-in tariff.
I don’t think that international feed-in tariffs even with only two EU member states under Article 11 of the Directive will come any time soon. A feed-in tariff at the EU level would be impossibly difficult to negotiate. There is a good case to leave this to the Member States legislation, since there are large differences in the resources and the already developed capacity. One size fits all would never work.
However, one might discuss some burden sharing mechanism at the EU level. Recently Germany records increasing exports of electricity because massive German investments in solar and wind under the extremely successful feed-in tariff system have reduced whole-sale prices of electricity.
If this kind of trend continues, one might ask if it is fair that neighbors get the cheap electricity, without contributing to the feed-in tariff costs. That question would not necessarily be welcome to such neighbors, so one may want to discuss it together with the various schemes to burden German tax payers with the results of excessive deficit spending by other Member States.
So, to sum up, right now the renewable energy support schemes are all on the Member State level, and there are good reasons for keeping it that way. But that might change, eventually, and at least some kind of financial burden-sharing agreement might be an interesting topic of discussion for the future.
And there would be nothing wrong with adding an EU-wide renewable portfolio standard, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the extremely successful feed-in tariff system at the Member State level.