In the light of the upcoming Energy Council meeting this Friday 10 October, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has sent an open letter to French Energy Minister Borloo.
EWEA expresses its concern about a proposed ‘review clause’ in the Renewable Energy Directive, and underlines the importance of priority grid access for renewables. The letter also addresses some of the other key issues on the table, such as the internal electricity market, grid integration and EU competitiveness.
A ‘review clause’ is currently being debated in Council as part of the Renewable Energy Directive. The clause would introduce a review, in 2014, of whether the flexibility mechanisms were ensuring that the Member States were meeting their targets. This could undermine stable national support mechanisms, market stability and investor certainty, as well as discourage Member States from ensuring adequate domestic investments before the results of such a review were known.
EWEA considers it vitally important that renewables are integrated into the EU grid system in a timely manner, and in the quantities necessary to meet the EU target. It supports the European Commission’s proposal on grids and urges the Council to maintain it. The Commission proposal would ensure that Member States take all the necessary steps to develop grid infrastructure, and that renewables were granted priority grid access and priority grid connection. It would also have guaranteed renewables effective priority during dispatch – if this is not upheld by the Council, existing EU legislation will be weakened. Fair grid access is a minimum requirement if the EU is to meet its 20% targets for renewables by 2020.
In its letter, EWEA points out that wind energy contributes to all three key objectives of the EU’s energy policy, namely reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the competitiveness of Europe and ensuring security of supply.
EWEA explains that in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, 328 million tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to taking 165 million cars off the roads – would be avoided if the installed wind energy in 2020 met 12% of EU electricity demand, as suggested by the European Commission.
Wind energy is a cost-efficient option, EWEA stresses. Wind turbines do not consume fuel, and their operation and maintenance costs are low. Moreover, wind power squeezes out the most expensive and polluting generating technology at any point in time, thus decreasing the overall electricity price.
Furthermore, wind is indigenous and reduces the need for reliance on fuel imports from third countries at unpredictable costs. Europe currently imports 56% of its energy and is on track to reach 70% in the next 20 to 30 years. The continent’s annual gas import bill alone is already EUR50 billion higher today than when the oil price was $20 per barrel a few years ago.
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