EU Renewables Directive to allow national subsidies for five more years

The 'major principles' of a draft Renewable Energy Directive have been outlined by the EC's Energy and Transport Commissioner. The directive will not set binding targets, but the Commission will have the right to intervene if it believes particular member states are not planning for adequate growth.

Speaking at a conference in Spain, Loyala de Palacio said that “quantitative indications for the targets to be chosen by individual member states” would be set. These indicative targets would allow the EU to meet its stated aim of achieving 12% of total energy consumed in 2010 to come from renewable sources.

Despite the absence of statutory targets for member states, de Palacio argued that the Renewable Energy Directive will be enforceable because the EC will build-in the right for its officials to intervene if member states do not implement national plans in line with the targets the EC suggests.

“The draft proposal will foresee that the Commission monitors the compliance of the national targets with the Community objective of 12%,” said de Palacio. “Furthermore, the Commission will have a right to present proposals to the European Parliament and the Council [of Ministers] with respect to national targets if they are inconsistent with the Community objective.”

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is pleased with de Palacio’s plans, except for the exclusion of binding targets. “We’ve always called for mandatory targets,” Vicky Pollard, director of EWEA’s Brussels office told edie. “We agree that action needs to be taken at member state level, but we’d like to see a procedure – following discussion with member states – that would lead to mandatory targets.”

What pleases EWEA and others involved in renewable energy generation across Europe is the decision by the EC to allow national subsidy programmes to continue to operate for at least five years. Progress on a renewables directive has been stalled in the past when the EC proposed measures that would have removed or reduced renewables subsidies in the name of electricity market liberalisation (see related story).

“The draft proposal will abstain from proposing a harmonised Community wide support system for electricity from renewable energy sources as we do not have sufficient experience, which would allow us to decide on one particular system,” conceded de Palacio in her speech. Instead, the EC will study the national subsidy programmes already in operation within the EU and will make a proposal for a harmonised system within five years.

The plans outlined by de Palacio must still be approved by the full Commission before they are presented to the European Parliament.

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