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New EU Rules Threaten European Solar Industry


Households, schools and hospitals that decide to place solar panels on their rooftop could be exposed to the same responsibilities as big energy utilities under new EU electricity market rules currently being drafted in the European Parliament, has learned.

A “big fight” is currently taking place in Parliament about whether small renewable energy installations should enjoy so-called “priority dispatch” to the electricity grid and be exempted from grid balancing responsibilities.

Krišjānis Kariņš (EPP), a Latvian lawmaker who is in charge of drafting the European Parliament’s position on the EU’s proposed electricity market design directive, is facing mounting pressure from angry small-scale renewable energy producers.

In proposals unveiled over a year ago, the European Commission promised to put consumers in the driving seat of the energy revolution, saying “consumers and communities will be empowered to actively participate in the electricity market and generate their own electricity, consume it or sell it back to the market”.

But the draft report by Kariņš literally turns this principle on its head by exposing small-scale renewable energy installation to the same rules as big electricity utilities, EURACTIV has learned.

“There is a big difference between small scale renewables and local energy communities and huge utility-owned renewable energy projects,” said Sebastian Mang, energy policy adviser at Greenpeace EU.

Failing to distinguish the two would “go against the EU’s stated aim to empowering energy consumers,” he warned.

The warning is echoed by SolarPower Europe, a trade association.

“Today, a level playing field does not exist between a state utility with massive solar farms and a local farmer with a rooftop solar system,” said Aurélie Beauvais, policy director at the association.

For small renewable energy producers like hospitals, farmers, and schools, whose main activity is not related to power production, the “administrative and financial burdens will certainly act as a strong disincentive to engage in renewable energy production,” she said.

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