Special Report

Mechanics of balance

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Special Report: Renewable Energy Europe


Cooperation mechanisms and a stronger focus on heating and cooling are crucial for the plans, urges Eurelectric secretary-general Hans ten Berge

Hans ten Berge
Hans ten Berge
The NREAPs are a key element in making transparent the way member states intend to achieve their national targets. Eurelectric is following this process with great interest and welcomes the clarity it brings.

But in order to achieve the renewable targets in a cost-efficient way, Eurelectric believes that it is important to focus on some areas requiring more attention.

The ‘cooperation mechanisms’ are of prime importance in ensuring delivery of the national targets. Using these mechanisms will be essential for countries with relatively high targets but very limited domestic sources of renewables. Cooperation will allow such countries to use imported cheaper renewables from countries with a surplus – or from non-EU countries – to help meet their targets.

According to the existing plans, only a few countries intend to use the mechanisms, and even then in a limited way. We believe that much greater use will be necessary once member states fully comprehend the reality of meeting their 2020 targets – and the preceding interim targets.

Extensive use of inter-state flexibility mechanisms will be essential not only to achieve the targets, but also in significantly reducing the costs of compliance. It is desirable that the existing system of limited cooperation mechanisms be expanded to full trading of renewables after the 2014 review of the directive.

A second concern is the balance between what the different renewables sectors will have to deliver. While we anticipate RES electricity will make the largest contribution towards reaching the target, we believe that more attention should be paid to RES in heating and cooling. This sector has the potential to deliver relatively low-cost renewables through technologies such as biomass pellet burners, solar thermal and heat pumps.

A greater burden has been placed on the electricity sector than is economically justifiable. It may be because it is easier to set targets for this sector – where obligations can be placed on electricity suppliers – than for the heating and cooling sector, where action must target individual property owners. More emphasis on the heating and cooling sector is needed to reach the targets at reasonable cost.

Although we would like to see some changes to the NREAPs to face up to the reality of delivering targets cost-effectively, we do applaud the initiative to make member states’ intentions visible and transparent through the plans. Eurelectric looks forward to making a full review once all 27 national plans are available.

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