EC calls for more RE trading; looking to set 2030 targets

The commission’s calls came against the backdrop of the European Union’s (EU) renewable energy goals, which aim to achieve a 20 percent share of renewable energy by 2020. It said this goal was attainable and cost-efficient only if "all policies currently in place are implemented across all Member States and if support schemes converge."

It added that in order to establish a "solid" framework after 2020, investor certainty must be secured and discussions begun now. "We should continue to develop renewable energy and promote innovative solutions. We have to do it in a cost-efficient way. 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," stated Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger.

The commission identified four areas it believes must be focused on, if the goal is to be achieved in a cost-efficient manner:

  • Energy market – The internal energy market must be completed, says the EC, and power generation investment incentives addressed to allow for renewable energy’s "smooth integration" into the market;
  • Support schemes – These schemes should be more consistent, focus on cost reductions and avoid "over compensation", says the EC;
  • Cooperation mechanisms – If cheaper than self-production, member states should buy renewable energy from either another member state or other country; and
  • Energy cooperation in the Mediterranean – Improvements to the regulatory framework should be implemented, since "an integrated regional market in the Maghreb would facilitate large-scale investments in the region and enable Europe to import renewable electricity".

Beyond 2020

Looking to the future, the commission said that a "suitable" framework must be implemented in order to avoid a "slump" in renewable energies. "Such a framework has to allow for more innovation and bring down cost to make renewables a promising sector of investment for growth," it said, adding, "It therefore proposes to start the process on preparing future policy options and milestones for 2030."

Overall, the commission has identified three framework options:

  • Establish greenhouse gas (GHG) goals, leave out goals for renewable energy;
  • Create three national targets for renewable energy, GHG and energy efficiency; and
  • Create three EU targets for renewable energy, GHG and energy efficiency.

Rebranding

In related news, the Guardian has reported that an EU program, Horizon 2020, has rebranded energy from gas power stations green energy. The program aims to inject €80 billion into research and innovation between 2014 and 2020. Of this, over €30 billion is meant to go "address major concerns shared by all Europeans such as climate change … making renewable energy more affordable."

However, on May 29, the U.K. newspaper wrote, "In a secret document seen by the Guardian, a large slice of billions of euros of funds that are supposed to be devoted to research and development into renewables such as solar and wave power are likely to be diverted instead to subsidising the development of the well-established fossil fuel."

International Energy Agency chief economist, Fatih Birol additionally told the paper, "Renewable energy may be the victim of cheap gas prices if governments do not stick to their renewable support schemes."

According to the Guardian, the European gas industry has been lobbying for the past 18 months for gas to be rebranded in the program. The article continued, "The original document has been altered by officials to include explicit references to funding for gas – despite gas being a fossil fuel and a mature technology. The document refers to an EU roadmap published last year that showed emissions from the power sector would have to be cut by 90 percent by 2050, to meet the EU’s targets. To this has been added a new sentence: ‘The roadmap also shows that gas, in the short to medium term, can contribute to the transformation of the energy system.’"

It went on to say that there are two instances where references to "gas" and "fossil fuels" have been inserted after the original document was first published, despite the fact the program was supposed to only focus on renewables.