Council Strategy for Renewable Energy

The ministers of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (Council) met in Bruxuelles under the Cyprus presidency and adopted Council conclusions on the Commission’s Communication on a Strategy for Renewable Energy of 6 June 2012.

In view of the completion of the internal energy market in electricity and gas by 2014, the ministers inter alia set the following priorities:

1. In connection with the internal electricity market opening

  • Further consideration shall be given to how to ensure that market arrangements are consistent with single market rules and the integration of renewable energy sources (RES) and are developed and improved to contribute to the affordability of RES;
  • While strengthening the electricity market as a competitive market and maintaining secure system operation, market arrangements should facilitate the integration of an increasing number of renewables power producers, and encourage flexibility so that all market actors can participate effectively in balancing markets.

2. With Regard to a Better Market Integration of RES

The Council stated that

  • In ensuring that RES become fully competitive, the different stages of maturity of the various technologies must be taken into account. National support schemes must be able to accommodate changes in the respective markets and must be adapted accordingly if necessary, in order to pass on cost-efficiency gains to final consumers and to control the cost of support schemes;
  • While recognising the need to appropriately incentivise renewables to deliver 2020 targets, national support schemes need to be continuously improved through simpler administrative regimes, reliability, and easier access to capital. Bearing in mind national specificities, support should gradually be phased out for new projects when a Member State establishes that the economic viability and competitiveness in the market of certain types of renewable energy have been achieved in that Member State, in order to allow for gradual integration into the market and to encourage technology competitiveness; Regarding the strong solar expansion in Germany, please see here.
  • Well-targeted and cost-efficient and effective post-2020 support may be needed which does not cause inefficiencies in cross-border trade of electricity, avoids over-compensation, promotes research and development and innovation and creates greater convergence ensuring better comparability among Member States’ support schemes, depending i.a. on the maturity and viability of technologies;
  • Non-binding guidance from the Commission on support schemes reform will be welcomed, based in particular on experience gained and best practices identified in Member States, in full respect of different national circumstances and the subsidiarity principle;
  • Such guidance should show ways for the most cost-efficient and effective deployment, towards facilitating better market integration, for strengthening transparency and predictability and for stimulating innovation, to make support schemes more responsive to market signals and lower their costs, and to support renewables penetration levels and technology maturity, bearing in mind the need for diversified technology solutions.

3. Concerning Cooperation and Trade

The Council agreed that

  • The tools provided by the Renewable Energy Directive regarding cooperation mechanisms should be exploited, based on voluntary participation of Member States, to enhance cooperation and trade between Member States as a way to promote renewables in a cost-effective and dynamic manner within the Union;
  • Noting the facilitating role of the Commission, guidance was welcomed as a priority to take full advantage of the potential within the EU, through better information and reducing complexity in the use of cooperation mechanisms;

4. With Regard to Infrastructure and Consumers

The Council declared that

  • The energy infrastructure package (regarding the Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on “Guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure” please see here) will provide more effective permit granting procedures and cost sharing rules and will be essential to facilitate better integration of electricity from renewable energy sources such as from wind and solar energy and to underpin a truly integrated EU electricity market;
  • Consideration should furthermore be given on ways and means to strengthen the potential for development of RES in an integrated, secure and cost-efficient and effective way, in relation to grid infrastructure (e.g. addressing loop flows; regarding loop flows caused mainly by German wind power, please see here), storage, back-up capacity and better operational solutions;
  • More attention should be paid to the widely untapped potential of renewables in the heating and cooling sector and to the interdependencies between and opportunities arising from increased renewable energy use on the one hand and the implementation of the Energy Efficiency and Buildings Directives on the other;
  • Consideration should be given in the implementation of the relevant provisions of the Renewable Energy Directive, and taking into account specific national circumstances, on how to further improve and simplify planning and permitting processes to address permitting issues specific to renewables which constitute barriers to the development of RES, e.g. larger number of permits compared to other energy sources of an equivalent scale.

5. In relation to Technology Innovation and Sustainability

The Council said that

  • Based on the architecture of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), the Commission’s upcoming Communication on energy technology is expected to identify future R&D needs and challenges and develop approaches to drive innovation forward on a range of renewable energy technologies and thus support EU competitiveness and the transition towards a sustainable energy system as part of a strong European industrial policy which i.a. aims at developing safe and sustainable technologies;
  • The challenge in developing RES not only needs to focus on making the relevant technologies more attractive and cost-efficient, but also to ensure that their entire life- cycle remains sustainable;
  • Therefore, further consideration needs to be given to the economic, environmental and social aspects of production and use of RES; in this context, the Commission’s recent proposal on indirect land use change related to biofuels and bioliquids should be given early and full attention.

6. Next Steps

The Council identified areas for further action, including

  • An invitation to the Commission to present non-binding guidance on the further improvement of national support schemes in order to achieve further cost reduction and market integration, as well as separate guidance on the implementation of the cooperation mechanisms provided for in the Renewable Energy Directive;
  • An invitation to the Commission to present in appropriate time and after thorough analysis, discussion and the review by 2014 of certain aspects of the current Renewable Energy Directive as foreseen therein, a solid and effective EU post-2020 RES framework embedded in the broader context of and contributing to the long-term overall EU policy framework.


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