Germany, the UK and Poland are proposing new flexibility mechanisms to help reach EU renewable energy targets, while Italy is demanding a new method be used to calculate countries’ renewables potential. Rome is also pushing for a reduction of the EU’s 10% biofuels target.
“The current [renewables] package may not deliver the best value for money,” say Germany, the UK and Poland in a joint statement released during the Energy Council of 6 June. The Commission is basing the targets on economic strength rather than on the basis of countries’ potential “to deliver cost-efficient renewables,” the statement continues.
While the three member states are not calling for a new method to calculate their individual renewable energy targets, they are nonetheless demanding more ‘flexibility’.
Included in their proposal is a mechanism that would allow EU countries to collaborate towards achieving their individual goals via joint projects. Two member states could also combine their targets, and countries that reach their targets early should be able to transfer surplus renewable energy to states that are falling behind, according to the statement.
Significantly, the three member states’ proposals do not include any mention of trading in renewable energy certificates. According to Oliver Schäfer, policy director at the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), the UK’s support for the plans signals an important shift in London’s policy orientation on the matter.
The Commission’s proposal on renewable certificates trading “is not flying anymore”, he said. France and Spain are also likely to support non-trading flexibility mechanisms, Schäfer said.
This apparent policy shift is also in line with some of the flexibility mechanisms outlined in MEP Claude Turmes’ report on renewables, presented to fellow MEPs in late May (EurActiv 28/05/08).
Italy, meanwhile, is calling for a revision of the criteria used to calculate national targets, which are currently based national GDP. Rome wants to add an emissions criterion to the calculation method, whereby states that pollute less would also have lower targets.
“We will suggest introducing the criterion of pro-capita emissions alongside the one related to GDP to reconcile national objectives on renewables,” Italian Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola told reporters in Luxembourg on 6 June.
Austria, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Malta are backing Rome’s proposal.
Italy is also urging the EU to “speak a realistic language” with respect to biofuels in the context of sky-rocketing food prices. “We will invite ministers to review the target on biofuels to take into account what is currently happening in the world and that cannot be ignored,” Scajola said.
While the EU remains locked in a heated debate over whether or not the biofuels targets should be kept, it is less likely that member states will agree to a rethink on renewable energy target calculation, according to Schäfer.
“There is no serious debate on the numbers,” he said, pointing to a broad political consensus among EU countries on the issue.
The member states’ proposals, which were not discussed in any detail during the 6 June Energy Council due to the discussion being dominated by the issue of energy market liberalisation, will now be discussed by the Council’s working groups.
10 June 2008
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