Beyond 2020: Discussion on Renewable Support at EU Level

The “Beyond 2020” project website gives some information on a discussion group on the topic of renewable energy support at the European Union level. Especially their October 2012 report on “Contextualizing the debate on harmonising RES support in Europe” is a good overview for that project, as well as for the state of EU law already in place in the field.

It will be interesting to see what this project comes up with.

At this time, I don’t think it is desirable to replace national renewable energy support schemes with an uniform European scheme. There are too many reasons against such a move.

For one, it would be impossibly difficult to negotiate. As the report cited above explains, the Commission has tried proposing European level support schemes in the past and has never succeeded in getting a majority for these proposals in Council and Parliament.

Next, it is clearly in the competence of the Member States to decide about their energy mix (Article 194 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). And their situation is vastly different. France with its large share of nuclear, Sweden with half nuclear and hydro each, Denmark with wind as the main technology to get to 100% renewable – all these different situations necessarily call for different policies.

Also, having for example an EU level feed-in tariff for solar would lead to all the development going to the Southern States, while Germany – again, like with the Euro bailout mess – would be expected to pay most of the cost.

The EU has enough competences even without deciding about these support schemes. There need to be some questions left to national Parliaments, or we could just dissolve them, and this is one of those questions that the EU should just keep away from.

That said, restricting national feed-in tariffs to electricity generated in the relevant Member State seems to be incompatible with basic values of the Internal Market. And as mentioned before, this is not justified by environmental concerns. If anything, this kind of protectionism will lead to less development, so it can’t possibly help with reducing CO2 reductions.

I would also not object to some kind of EU quota system, as long as it does not interfere with the feed-in tariff support policies most Member States have in place. As long as it is only on top of support at Member State level, I don’t see much harm done by such a quota system.

Related post: International Feed-in Tariffs?

 

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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