Highlights Core Theme 1: RES Electricity

CT1 - 4th Plenary Meeting in Vienna

Headline 1: Update and Q&A on the Revised Renewable Energy Directive

On 13th June 2018, the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission reached an agreement on the revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), which sets the new framework for renewables until 2030. The Directive is expected to enter into force in December 2018 and will have to be transposed by Member States until June 2021. The RED II establishes inter alia new rules for RES electricity. Amongst others, these rules are related to approaches for increasing the stability of financial support, making support schemes more market-based by introducing competitive bidding procedures and improving RES integration in the market by direct marketing of the generated electricity. The revised Directive also includes provisions to strengthen the role of consumers by fostering renewable self-consumption as well as renewable energy communities. It also includes provisions on streamlined administrative procedures of new and repowered renewable energy installations. It also includes provisions for a voluntary partial opening of support schemes.. During the first CT1 parallel session, participants, together with DG ENER representatives, took a closer look at the provisions of the RED II on electricity to discuss the challenges, which may arise as a result for Member States. Questions and challenges raised by MS were the lack of definitions and experiences regarding energy communities and opening of support schemes as well as regards the implementation and challenging timeframes of the administrative procedures required. Furthermore, the CT1 taskforce led by Spain and Italy gave a short presentation on the intermediate results on the opening of support schemes. The results showed that there exists a wide array of drivers as well as barriers for opening support schemes. However, the survey also showed that Member States expect significantly fewer barriers in the long-term inter alia due to additional provisions in the REDII as well as the Governance Regulation that are expected to increase the incentives for opening. Public acceptance however is expected to remain a key challenge for opening. 

Headline 2: Repowering – How to Make the Most out of Existing RES Potentials and Installations

A significant number of Europe’s renewable energy installations will reach the end of their financial support periods between 2020 and 2030. The respective projects will be decommissioned, will continue operation without support or will be repowered. In case revenues from the market alone do not provide sufficient economic profitability, incentives for repowering or lifetime extensions can prevent the decommissioning of a significant proportion of existing RES installations. The topic of RES installation reaching their end of support will become particularly relevant over the next years for onshore wind energy projects, followed by PV installations. Countries most affected are DNK, DEU, ESP and ITA. The replacement of old installations (e.g. wind farms) with new turbines (repowering) can increase site efficiency and leverage further RES potentials. During the 2nd CT1 parallel session, discussions showed that Member States are very interested in this topic, but that limited experience exists. Italy presented an overview of the policies it has in place in order to support lifetime extension after the end of the official support period; this presentation was followed by a discussion on Member State experiences with financial incentives for lifetime extension or repowering and on the possible need for regulatory action. CT1 participants came to the conclusion that lifetime extension of RES installations could be interesting where repowering is not possible or to serve as a preparatory phase in order to prepare for the eventual repowering of the site.

Headline 3: Enhancing Citizen Participation in the Energy Transition

Article 22 of the RED II introduces the concept of “renewable energy communities”, thereby acknowledging the important role of citizen participation in the energy transition. Citizen participation can help to increase local acceptance, create access to additional financial capital and trigger the development of new, innovative business models such as crowdfunding or peer-to-peer energy trading. During this session, CT1 participants tried to gain a better understanding of the implications of citizen participation and in particular of the REDII provisions on renewable energy communities. The participants discussed the potentials and challenges of citizen participation in generation, storage and trade of renewable electricity. The situation across Member States on the topic of renewable energy communities is quite diverse: some Member States already have some experience, while others are new to the concept. There are various business models of (renewable) energy communities that all try to increase actor diversity and local acceptance for RES deployment. Therefore financial guarantees or specific funding instruments might be necessary. However, the experience of some Member States has shown that it can be challenging to select the right instruments in order to enhance citizen participation and ensure that privileges remain restricted to those actors that Member States wish to target. Key challenge in this regards will be to find a smart definition of renewable energy communities that avoids fraud, while eliminating barriers and preventing potential discrimination and avoiding market distortion. Examples discussed to support renewable energy communities included direct financial support schemes, removing regulatory barriers, simplifying the permitting process and facilitating cooperation between DSOs and the communities.

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