Wednesday, 18 June 2008

EU support for Scotland's renewables

The Parliament backed full ownership unbundling today, rejecting the compromise reached by Europe's energy ministers on 6 June for an "independent transmission operator" - believe me when I say this has to have been one of the most technical dossiers to have crossed my desk.

But in amongst all the technicality there was actually some good stuff in the report, not least the requirement that electricity grid operators should provide priority access to renewable energy and combined heat and power generation. Governments may also require operators to invest revenues from domestic electricity consumers in energy efficiency projects.

Scotland has huge renewable potential, the energy from which can be exported to the energy markets of the rest of mainland Europe, if only Scotland's renewable energy producers were not penalised by the UK's energy regulator, Ofgem, by the extortionate prices they are charged for connecting to the electricity grid. The irony of the current situation Scotland finds itself in still staggers me with Europe currently looking at ways in which the use of renewable energy can be promoted further so that the EU's share of renewables can be increased to meet its 20% target by 2020.

Article 14.7 of the Commission's proposal on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources requires Member States to ensure that the charging of transmission and distribution fees does not discriminate against electricity from renewable energy sources, including in particular electricity from renewable energy produced in peripheral regions, such as island regions and regions of low population density. This is presently the case under Article 7.6 of the 2001 renewable electricity Directive.

The problem remains with the national energy regulatory authorities but we also need to see greater action from the Commission to help deal with this problem.

With the Parliament having now delivered its opinion at first reading this dossier now bounces back to the EU Energy Ministers and into the hands of the French EU Presidency, which takes over the running of the EU from 1 July. If ever there was an energy battle to watch, this is the one.

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