MEPs voted this week to approve EU electricity market rules as part of the discussion on the European Commission’s 2016 Clean Energy Package.
The parliamentary industry and energy committee (ITRE) voted in favour of strict rules for so-called capacity mechanisms.
Unlike the European Council of member states, the committee supported the EU’s executive branch, the commission, in its proposal to empower European citizens in the energy sector. This would maintain rules that energy from small-scale renewables be taken up by the grid before power from other sources, such as coal and nuclear. The committee says it wants to make it easier for people to generate and share electricity in their communities.
Friends of the Earth Europe praised the decision but asked whether “recalcitrant member states will follow the parliament’s lead and put energy in the hands of the people, or keep Europe tied to corporate polluters driving us to dangerous climate change”.
Spanish commissioner and EU climate boss Miguel Arias Cañete and a group of green MEPs backed the commission’s proposal that suggested excluding any installation that emits more than 550g of CO2 per kilowatt hour from public money.
The 550g limit, which is also the European Investment Bank’s policy, in effect excludes coal power stations and some inefficient gas plants. It has faced opposition from former communist, coal-dependent states, like Poland at a recent meeting of the Energy Council.
Recently approved Polish mechanisms could reportedly cost its taxpayers over €8.9 billion by 2030.
Kariņš will now have to convince the commission and council to adopt the new capacity mechanism, as well as pushing for an EU assessment of whether each country needs capacity mechanisms. Member states will probably opt for self-assessment, rather than allowing Brussels to intervene.
WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said: “For Europe to move towards a higher share of renewables in the power mix, it needs properly functioning cross-border electricity markets with adequate grid infrastructure.
“It’s good the parliament is keeping priority dispatch for existing wind installations and to see clear rules on curtailment.
“This helps wind energy projects to reduce risk, lower their costs of capital, and thus minimise the cost of renewables support for consumers,” Dickson said. “But we are a bit worried about the new rules on balancing. It’s unclear what compensation will need to be paid to TSOs [transmission system operators]. And wind farms will need to delegate this to third parties with no guarantees it will be done at a fair price.”
MEPs are beginning to address Europe’s urban air crisis. Picture credit: Wikimedia