European Renewable Energy Strategy Welcomed

06 June 2012

Alyn Smith, SNP MEP has today (Wednesday) hailed the publication of the EU's Renewable Energy Strategy post 2020 as a "massive opportunity for Scotland" which "fits hand in glove" with our own domestic agenda.

It is also totally at odds with the position of the UK government which has been exposed attempting to water down EU rules on energy efficiency and stop the EU adopting a new target for renewable energy generation.

Today's new EU strategy calls for an increased use of renewable energy trading among Member States, better integration of renewables into the market and a more coordinated European approach in the establishment and reform of support schemes that encourage cost reductions and avoid over compensation. The strategy also highlights the need for investors to have regulatory certainty and so pushes for the start of discussions on a future framework beyond 2020.

Alyn said:

"This strategy is a massive opportunity for Scotland with our world leading expertise and abundance of opportunities for renewable energy production. We have so much to showcase for the rest of the EU and further afield, and this strategy not only supports the work we are doing but also encourages its expansion.

"The Scottish government's efforts to promote renewable energy production and climate change reductions have been noticed and this strategy fits hand in glove. We are on track to produce 100% of our electricity demand from renewables by 2020 and so it is important that we are supported by a coordinated system of renewable energy trading across EU Member States if we wish to reap as much benefit from this natural advantage as we can. Sales of offshore electricity could value £14 billion by 2050 - the equivalent of £2,700 for each person in Scotland - and so this is no petty objective.

"All the same, the Commission has not stepped up to point the way post 2020. We have been given options but there could be more set down in concrete. The Commission should be working for an ambitious and binding 2030 renewable energy target - despite the meddling of the UK government - but regrettably, this strategy has not provided it. If we are serious about meeting our energy security goals in the EU and delivering on our commitment to limit the increase in global temperatures to below 2 degrees then we need a rapid shift.

"I will be following future developments closely, especially as we begin to see new policy initiatives on energy policy areas in the next few years. However, this is a good solid start which I look forward to building on."

The Strategy can be seen at http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/doc/communication/2012/comm_en.pdf

The Strategy indicates four main areas where efforts should be stepped up until 2020 to achieve renewable energy goals whilst being cost-efficient:

  • Energy market: The Commission insists on the need to complete the internal energy market and acknowledges the need to address power generation investment incentives in the market to allow for a smooth integration of renewables into the market.
  • Support schemes: The Commission favours schemes that encourage cost reductions and avoid over compensation. It also calls for support schemes to be more consistent across Member States in order to avoid unnecessary barriers.
  • Cooperation mechanisms. The Commission encourages an increased use of the cooperation mechanisms contained in the Renewable Energy Directive. The cooperation mechanisms allow Member States to achieve their national binding targets by trading renewable energy between them. This means that one Member States buys for example wind or solar energy from another Member State or from a third country outside the EU. This can be cheaper than producing solar or wind in the home country.
  • Energy cooperation in the Mediterranean. The Commission suggests improvements to the regulatory framework and stresses that an integrated regional market in the Maghreb would facilitate large-scale investments in the region and enable Europe to import renewable electricity.

For the time beyond 2020, the Communication acknowledges that without a suitable framework renewable energy growth will slump. Such a framework has to allow for more innovation and bring down cost to make renewables a promising sector of investment for growth. It therefore proposes to start the process on preparing future policy options and milestones for 2030. It identifies three options beyond business as usual:

  • New goals for GHG (Greenhouse gas emissions) but no goals for renewable energy. ETS would be the main instrument to cut down on CO2 emissions.
  • Three national targets: Renewable energy, energy efficiency and GHG.
  • EU wide targets: Renewable energy, energy efficiency and GHG goals.

The Commission stresses that it is crucial to identify 2030 milestones as soon as possible. These should enable renewable energy producers to be increasingly competitive players in the European energy market.