EU offers first glimpse of renewable support rules for member states

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The EU has published a set of guidelines for renewable energy support that offers a first glimpse at the possible shape of new state aid rules expected next year.

The paper suggests replacing feed-in tarrifs with feed-in premiums in order to reflect market prices and recommends establishing lowest-cost-wins auctions to encourage competition.

It also notes that retroactive changes to existing policies should be avoided.

“Governments must avoid unannounced or retroactive scheme change. Investors' legitimate expectations concerning the returns on existing investments must be respected,” it says.

Although renewable energy incentives are set at a member state level, European Union state aid rules apply and today’s guidelines have been positioned as notice to national governments of what will and will not be deemed acceptable in the future.

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has raised concern with several of the recommendations.

“The proposed set of parameters for a transparent and predictable adjustment of support levels presents a welcome approach to make support for renewable energy both dynamic and cost-effective. However, the use of auctioning procedures for the definition of support levels cannot be a standard solution, as it would practically exclude small-scale installations,” warned Frauke Thies, policy director, EPIA.

“While the Commission proposes a trajectory for large-scale renewable energy installations, unfortunately it neglects important opportunities for smaller installations,” she added.

“The use of self-consumption of solar electricity will become an increasingly important driver to reduce and replace the dependence on dedicated support policies. Proposals to trigger the deployment of self-consumption, however, are markedly absent from the guidance documents.”

The EPIA has recently called on the EU to investigate possible breach’s of the European legislation by the Spanish government in its efforts to roll back support for solar power.

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