The solar industry objects to the European Commission's state aid proposals

This is not the first time that the European Commission under Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger (pictured) has been accused of overstepping its bounds on energy policy. Image: Jacques Grießmayer, Wikipedia
This is not the first time that the European Commission under Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger (pictured) has been accused of overstepping its bounds on energy policy. Image: Jacques Grießmayer, Wikipedia

The European Commission has put forth its draft guidelines to state aid, which the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA, Brussels) says oversteps the EC's legal authority and would hinder member states' ability to reach their 2020 renewable energy targets.

The proposals include a call for technology-neutral auctions for “deployed” technologies, which would include solar photovoltaics (PV), as well as limiting feed-in tariffs for PV to installations smaller than 1 MW. The draft guidelines are currently in a consultation period which ends on February 14th, 2014.

“State Aid rules should not replace energy policy,” states EPIA Head of Regulatory Affairs Alexandre Roesch. “While these guidelines should only set the conditions under which aid for energy and environment may be considered compatible with the Treaty, the current set of proposals on renewable energy appears to go far beyond the framework defined in the relevant European legislation.”

“Several provisions would indeed unduly constraint member states’ capabilities to reach their 2020 binding renewable targets. In particular, the technology neutral-bidding process that Member States would have to implement when granting support to “deployed” renewable electricity technologies is constraining their choices and could undermine the very objective of helping a mix of different technologies mature and achieve their full competitive potential.”

 

STA mobilizes member organizations

The Solar Trade Association (STA, London, UK) has called upon its members to weigh in on the proposals. “If you’re a community energy group or a small- to medium-sized enterprise in the solar industry we strongly urge you to respond, and not with a Valentine card,” states STA Head of External Affairs Leonie Green

“A rather technical consultation from a distant Directorate General of the European Commission might not be top of your priorities right now. It should be – these proposals could seriously damage your business. They are also incredibly ill-informed.”

Greene warns that the proposals could put nations like the UK that are still building their solar industries at a particular disadvantage. “Poor performing countries slip further behind,” notes Greene.

“(Government) Ministers could be in the whacko situation of explaining why we were suppressing our utility and large roof solar industry (set to be the cheapest low-carbon source before 2020) because Germany and Italy have a lot of domestic solar roofs. Incomprehensible for the public and a very un-level playing field for EU investors.”

 

“Power grab” by the EU?

This is not the first time that the European Commission under Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger has been accused of overstepping its bounds on dictating energy policy to member states and interfering with the transition to renewable energy.

In late 2013 the European Commission launched an investigation into feed-in surcharge exemptions in Germany. Renewable energy advocate and Law Professor Karl-Friedrich Lenz has warned of a power grab by the EU in this and a related European Court of Justice decision.

 

2014-02-12 | Courtesy: EPIA, STA; Image: Jacques Grießmayer, Wikipedia | solarserver.com © Heindl Server GmbH

Our editorial selection of breaking solar news is published at:
http://www.solarserver.com/solar-magazine/solar-news/top-solar-news.html