Renew On Line (UK) 59
Extracts from NATTA's journal
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11. EU News
EU gets extra 1.3 GW (th) solar
The solar thermal industry in Europe installed 1,248,940 kW of thermal capacity during 2005, according to the latest statistics from the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation. Germany will be in the lead with 595,000 kW-th in 2005, up from 525,000 kW-th installed in 2004- an increase of 4% over 2003, dominated by 472,500 of flat plate collectors and 52,500 kW-th of vacuum collectors. By the end of 2004, Germany had 3,922,800 kW-th of installed solar thermal capacity. Austria will install 140,000 kW-th by the end of 2005, compared with 127,816 in 2004 and 116,844 kW-th in 2003. At the end of last year, the national installed capacity was 1,459,842 kW-th. Greece will be in third place in 2005, with an extra 119,000 kW-th this year, compared with 150,500 last year and 112,700 in 2003. The total installed capacity by the end of 2004 was 1,978,690 kW-th. Spain will be the fourth-largest installer, at 105,000 kW-th, compared with 63,000 in 2004 and 49,000 in 2003, and a total capacity of 294,256 kW-th. Fifth is France, expected to install 52,500 in 2005 compared with 36,400 in 2004 and 27,230 in 2003, with a national total of 191,870 kW-th.
* “Solar thermal has often been ignored in national and international energy statistics,” the report notes. “One of the key reasons was the lack of energy-related data: solar thermal was counted in square meters of collector area, which does not fit in with energy statistics. Therefore, solar thermal was often the only energy technology measured in a non-energy unit, or not shown at all.”
So ESTIF now publishes statistical data in kW-th to increase the visibility of solar thermal and “to show more clearly that this technology can substantially contribute to the overall energy supply,” using a factor of 0.7 kW-th per sq.m of installed collector.
REFIT best for PV solar
“A feed-in tariff is at present the best support proposal for the PV market,” says the European Photovoltaic Industry Association- it’s “effective, flexible, fast and easy to establish” although it accepts that net metering may be suitable later on when the market is established.
Germany does it right
Germany has been doing very well- with some cleaver polices on renewables. The German Wind Energy Association web site has a nice summary of the argument for the German REFIT fixed price Renewables Feed in Tariff approach and its successor, the EEG. It notes that supporters of the competitive market quota system (like the UK’s Renewables Obligation) ‘argue that it encourages increased competition and rapidly pulls down prices for cleanly sourced electricity. But it can be seen presently that quota systems do not necessarily cut the prices consumers have to pay. For example, in 2003 customers in the quota countries Italy and the UK paid an average of 13.0 and 9.6 euro cents per kilowatt- hour respectively for wind power- far more than the 6.4 cents in Greece or Spain or even the 9.2 cents in The Netherlands that year. And this despite the fact that both quota countries have significant wind energy resources. In fact, the UK has the best winds in Europe.’
It admits that it is not easy to compare tariffs in various countries directly because the methods used or the support duration differ widely. But it relays the conclusions of the Cambridge-MIT study, comparing the German and UK systems (see Renew 155): ‘the cost to society of the German feed-in tariff is currently lower than that of the so-called Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) taking into account the average lifetime of a project’.
It adds that quota systems are prone to windfall profits being captured by developers as the technology improves, whereas the Feed-In Tariff ‘contains an integrated price digression of 2% for wind energy, 5% for photovoltaic energy. Similar mechanisms were introduced in France and Portugal, for example’. It concludes that ‘altogether, wind power costs in Germany have fallen in real terms by around 55% since 1991’ and says that, given the patchy experience with quota systems and local differences in support schemes and resources, it was ‘inappropriate to generalise the application of quota systems before they have reached maturity.’ noting that a recent EREF-Worldwatch report recommends ‘not to harmonise prematurely within a European context’.
* Germany is already close to complying with the 21% cut in emissions by 2010 required by Kyoto, in part due to its major energy efficiency and renewables programmes. By the end of 2003 greenhouse gas emissions were 18.5% less than in 1990 and progress continues to be made- CO2 emissions caused by transport and industry have declined in Germany, in contrast to the trend for most EU countries. In 2004 biomass, hydro, wind, solar & geothermal accounted for 3.6% of primary energy consumed (as opposed to 2.6% in 2000) and for more than 9% of the electricity consumed (as opposed to 6.7% in 2000).
And more is to come under the National Climate Protection Programme 2005- with 193m euros allocated for a market incentive programme with a view to promoting the use of renewables and making them more cost competitive. Fortunately it seems the new coalition government is leaving this success story to continue- the new environment minister is from the SPD and is pro renewables.
20% cut in EU energy by 2020
The European Commission has adopted a Green Paper on Energy Efficiency (‘Doing More with Less’) which seeks to save 20% of energy consumption by 2020 in a cost effective way through changes in consumer behaviour and energy efficient technologies. These savings would allow the EU to save an estimated EUR 60 billion on its energy bill. Current trends point in the direction of ever increasing energy use with a level of consumption in the EU that could increase by 10% in the coming 15 years if nothing is done. With this Green Paper, the EC is proposing to reverse the trend. It emphasises that half of the savings could be reached through a full implementation by Member States of already adopted legislation (or about to be adopted) on buildings, domestic appliances or energy services.
To move things along, the EC has also introduced a new Eco-Design for Energy Using Products Framework Directive which it says should bring energy waste down by 20% over eight years via a system of voluntary energy-efficiency standards for dozens of products. The programme will be reviewed in three years to assess whether mandatory standards were needed. It puts the total potential EU saving from domestic efficiency measures at about 180 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2010- half the EU’s total commitment under Kyoto. In parallel, the Green Paper notes that renewable energy contributed 4.3% of final energy demand in 2002, or 46 Mtoe. The share for buildings, was 2.7%, for industry 1.5% and for transport 0.1%. And it sees them as expanding.
...but emissions rise by 1.5%
In 2003, emissions of greenhouse gases in the core 15-member states of the EU increased by 53 million tons, or 1.3%. And adding in the 10 new EU members, emissions rose by 1.5%, according to the latest annual report from the European Environment Agency, which attributed the increase to higher levels of power production using coal, and a cold snap during the first quarter in several EU countries. The EU has however managed to achieve a cut of around 1.7% since 1990.
EC to rule on Scottish grid charges
The EC has launched an investigation into a formal complaint from the Scottish National Party that claims suppliers of renewable energy in Scotland are victims of unfair discrimination since it says they are charged more to use the electricity transmission network because they are further away from the centres of population in the south of England. Maf Smith, chief executive of the Scottish Renewables Forum claimed that the average transmission charge being levied on Scottish producers is six times more than the average in England and Wales. This he says will cost a 50MW wind farm in Scotland £1.5m a year more, and a 10MW wave-power scheme £430,000 a year more. Under the 2001 EU renewables directive, the UK is required to ensure that transmission fees do not discriminate against “electricity from renewable energy sources produced in peripheral regions, such as island regions and regions of low population density”.
In parallel, another legal action is being pursued by ScottishPower, which is taking the government energy regulator, Ofgem, to the high court in London over what it calls the “flawed reasoning” behind the new transmission charges. ScottishPower argues that the charges are “detrimental to the growth in renewables, undermine past decisions to invest and have an exaggerated and discriminatory effect on Scotland”.
Ofgem has responded that “The new charging arrangements are good news for Scottish domestic and business customers as transmission costs have fallen”, while the DTI pointed to the special provisions for capping prices in remote island locations and said “We’re confident that the balance we have struck is consistent with our obligation not to discriminate against renewables”. The capping of island charges was however dismissed as “window dressing” by the SNP MEP Alyn Smith. “I have no doubt we will hear very soon from the commission, which I am sure will not be satisfied with this gesture.”
Scottish Extension The government may amend Mark Lazarowicz’s Climate Change & Sustainable Energy Private Member’s Bill, to extend the new arrangements it has made to limit transmission charges for renewable generators on the Scottish Islands- which under existing rules, only run until 2014 to 2024.
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