AMSTERDAM – The governments of the EU Member States need to be more specific about the detailed policy instruments they’re going to be pursuing to meet their climate targets, Wind Europe CEO Giles Dickson said in an interview on 2 October in Amsterdam.
All 28 existing Member States submitted draft National Energy and Climate plans around the turn of the year and this year they’re working with the European Commission to improve those plans and finalise them by 31 December. “Now we, and many other organisations, we analysed all 28 plans and they were quite good in terms of the headline numbers, pledges, commitments on the expansion of renewables, for example,” Dickson told New Europe on the sidelines of the RE-Source 2019 energy conference. “They were not delivering 32 percent renewable energy by 2030, which is the binding EU target so there’s work for them to do still on the pledges. But where their plans were really weak was on the level of detail in them about the specific policies and measures that the governments are going to apply and introduce in order to enable them to meet their pledges,” he said, noting that hardly any of the Member States talked about the need to remove barriers to corporate PPAs (Power Purchase Agreement).
Dickson said member states also need a plan about dealing with renewable assets that will come to the end of their operational life between now and 2030. Moreover, many member states were saying very little on how they are going to drive the electrification of heating, transport and industry. “We will not deliver on our energy and climate targets if we don’t significantly increase the share of electricity in the energy mix – remember it’s only 24 percent today and most of the rest is fossil fuels. So they’ve been working hard on it,” Dickson said.
He noted that many of the countries have increased their commitments for wind energy, including Poland and Lithuania. “We’re talking to a number of governments about the specific detailed policy measures they will be introducing in the final versions of their plans as well,” Dickson said.
Regarding Power Purchase Agreements, he said the countries with most PPAs are those in which the regulatory framework is the most favourable, namely Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, and Ireland. “In the last two years we have seen the first PPAs in Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland and France so all of the large member states are now signing PPAs, which is very positive,” Dickson said.
“There are some countries still in Central and Eastern Europe where it is not possible to sign PPAs or it’s very difficult because of regulatory barriers – Romania is one example. There are other countries where culturally the notion of a long-term agreement on a fixed price, say for 10 to 15 years is a challenge culturally and in terms of mindset in terms of those responsible for procuring energy,” the Wind Europe CEO explained.
Under the new Renewable Energy Directive, European governments now have the duty to remove these barriers. “We’re talking to national government saying, ‘we have identified these barriers in your national legislation which are preventing PPA, you have to remove them, that’s how you can remove them.’ That’s the sort of dialogue we’re having with the German government, with the French government as well,” Dickson said.
In his view, the new Commission will be working extremely hard to accelerate the energy transition. “Central to that is the further expansion of renewables in Europe. Look at the numbers that are in the Commission’s 2050 decarbonisation scenarios. They envision onshore wind capacity increasing by three times between now and 2050 and we’re already have 190 GW,” Dickson said. “They envision offshore wind capacity going up from the 20 GW we have today to between 240 and 450 GW by 2030. That’s a huge increase and needs lots of thing to happen notable investment in the grid infrastructure in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and elsewhere,” Dickson said.
Regarding the UN climate action summit in New York last week, Dickson said the results were disappointing. “One of the things that is interesting is that here we are at a gathering of companies, 900 people in the room who all have great ambitions for renewable energy,” he said, referring to the meeting in Amsterdam and quipped: “We’re seeing arguably far more ambition in the private sector than we’re seeing from national governments worldwide collectively on climate change.”
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