Green energy needs milestones to grow-EU Commission

June 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Wed Jun 6, 2012 3:22pm EDT

* Options include new set of green goals

* Another option would be just a carbon goal

* Abrupt changes to subsidies shatter confidence-Commission

By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS, June 6 (Reuters) – Europe must agree on 2030 goals
as soon as possible to spur investment in renewable energy, or
green power growth will fizzle after 2020, the European
Commission said on Wednesday in its latest strategy statement.

Many in the renewable energy sector agree on the need for
strong guidance, and they want legally binding targets. But some
of the EU’s 27 member states strongly oppose new legal goals for
renewables and would prefer non-binding milestones or nothing at

The EU so far has a firm target to increase the share of
renewables in the energy mix to 20 percent by 2020, which
analysts and industry say it should meet and could exceed.

“We should continue to develop renewable energy and promote
innovative solutions. We have to do it in a cost-efficient way,”
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said in the statement.

“This means producing wind and solar power where it makes
economic sense and trading it within Europe, as we do for other
products and services.”

The Commission’s idea is that renewables, such as solar and
wind power, should be generated wherever they are cheapest. It
reiterated its backing for an integrated market that would
connect to northern Africa, where it sees the potential for
large-scale solar generation to supply Europe.

Subsidy schemes should be consistent across the bloc, the
Commission said, adding that abrupt changes shatter investor

At the same time, Oettinger said subsidies should be
gradually withdrawn as renewables become more and more viable.

“Basically, renewables have to be able to prove their worth
on the international market, like all other goods and services,”
he told reporters.

Looking beyond 2020, Oettinger has said he wants agreement
on new policy before the end of the current Commission, whose
mandate expires in 2014.

The renewables communication only lays out scenarios for how
to move on from the 20 percent renewables binding goal, which is
one of a set of three green energy targets to be achieved by
2020. The other targets are for a 20 percent reduction in carbon
emissions and a non-binding 20 percent cut in energy consumption
compared with projected levels.

“Without a suitable framework (after 2020) renewable energy
growth will slump,” the Commission said in a statement.

Options include new goals for cuts in emissions, but no
goals for renewable energy, which would leave the EU Emissions
Trading Scheme (ETS) as the main instrument to cut carbon
emissions and encourage renewable energy.

Britain, for instance, has said the emphasis should be on
the carbon goal and that a renewable target might put other
low-carbon generation, such as nuclear or even natural gas, at a

Nuclear generation of power is carbon-free, while natural
gas is the least carbon intensive of the fossil fuels.

Many in the renewable industry say the collapse of the ETS
to less than 7 euros – far below the 20 to 50 euros
analysts have said is necessary to encourage low-carbon
investment – demonstrates the need for a renewables target.

A second option outlined in the Commission document would be
to replace the three 2020 targets with three 2030 targets. This
could take the form of national or EU-wide targets.

Oettinger said he had not decided on any one option and that
it was up to member states to debate the possibilities.

Germany’s environment minister welcomed the strategy paper
but took issue with the idea of harmonised EU support schemes.

“The European Commission has sent an important first signal
with its strategy on renewable energy by 2020 in time to put in
place investments and a reliable framework of conditions,”
German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said.

“However, it is important that member states can move
according to national potential and developments. That would not
be possible with a harmonised EU-wide standard support schemes.”

Among those calling for a strong increase in ambition is the
European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), the umbrella
organisation for the European renewable energy industry.

It has urged a binding target to ensure renewables make up
45 percent of the energy mix by 2030 and also wants to raise the
goal for carbon cutting to 30 percent from 20 percent for 2020.

“This is not something that’s really impossible,” said
Arthouros Zervos, EREC president and the chief executive of
Greece’s biggest electricity producer, PPC.

The European Wind Energy Association said strong growth in
renewables to 2030 could generate more than 3 million jobs.

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