European Parliament calls for ambitious measures to encourage renewable energy use

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The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a report calling for specific measures to encourage renewable self-generation and consumption.

Delivering a New Deal for Energy Consumers highlights the obstacles that prevent consumers from taking full advantage of the ongoing energy transition to better manage their consumption and lower their energy bills.

As a solution, it outlines a three-pillar strategy to overcome the hurdles:

  • To provide clearer information on energy bills (prices, consumption and taxes); improve price comparison and encourage people to switch suppliers. It also calls for facilitating demand response by making energy markets send stronger price signals to consumers; fostering decentralized power generation; guaranteeing consumer protection from unfair commercial practices; and tackling the problem of energy poverty.
  • To make smart homes and networks a reality by, among other things, deploying an advanced metering infrastructure (smart meters) as a necessary first step towards integrated smart home energy management systems that make full use of smart appliances. The EU has a role to play here in ensuring common standards, technical interoperability and consumer access, as well as financing research on smart energy systems and new technologies.
  • To pay special attention to data management and protection in order to ensure that large data flows and wider integration of ICT into energy systems do not infringe the data security and privacy of consumers and undermine their trust.

Prior to the successful vote to adopt the report, Theresa Griffin, a member of the European Parliament from the U.K., hosted the launch of the SolarPower Europe study Ahead of the Pack: Solar as the New Gateway to the New Decentralized Energy World, which was attended by representatives of the European Commission, the power sector and consumer organizations.

"Energy is a basic social right, not a commodity. In this sense, ensuring a common legal framework for self-generation is absolutely key," said Griffin.

The study demonstrates the economic benefits solar can bring to residential consumers and explores how energy suppliers can create business opportunities.

"The study confirms that solar alone or in combination with battery storage can bring economic benefits to a growing share of European consumers," said Thomas Döring, SolarPower Europe’s policy analyst and the study’s author.

Alexandre Roesch, SolarPower Europe policy director, added, "The upcoming Renewable Energy Directive and the market design reform expected at the end of the year now provide a unique opportunity to enshrine our proposals and those of the European Parliament in the European legislation."

In an effort to shed new light on the current debate around prosumers, the report analyzed different policy scenarios in effect in Germany, Portugal and the U.K., with several combinations of solar and storage solutions.

Among the report’s findings was that while combining solar with storage is economically feasible, solar alone remains a better deal.

“It indeed achieves either better or very similar economic results than solar combined with small batteries, while solar combined with large batteries likely remains the least beneficial variant with regard to medium timeframes (five years and more),” SolarPower Europe said. The “additional investment costs associated with larger batteries reduce the monetary benefits to an extent which cannot be compensated by higher self-sufficiency rates,” it added.

In the case of Germany, the study showed that a tipping point may be reached when the cost of batteries are reduced by 30% and 70% for small-size and large-scale batteries, respectively. In the U.K., however, there was no strong business case for storage. In Portugal, the reference scenario can be considered as a “market integration” scenario, since excess electricity is already valorized only at the average wholesale price and does not benefit from any feed-in tariff.