(Article published in the newspaper “Kathimerini” on March 28, 2010)
The European Union (EU) adopted the Directive 2009/28 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable energy sources (RES) in order to facilitate the use of RES for the production of electricity. The Directive has to be implemented in national law until 5/12/2010. Greece has to act fast to use the significant opportunities in the sector of RES derived out of the prospect of cooperation with and investing in other member states or third countries not yet part of the EU. These investments can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to increasing energy production from RES in order for Greece to fulfil its obligations till 2020, as set in the Kyoto Protocol.
In particular, the Directive sets a mandatory target of a 20 % share of energy from renewable sources in the overall Community gross energy consumption by 2020, while the national target for Greece is 18%. This percentage is below the minimum percentage of 20% for the EU as a whole, given that the latter is allocated differently in the various member states. Some of them are obliged to reach more demanding targets than the Greek one, as is the case of Denmark (30%), Austria (34%) and Latvia (40%), countries which already cover a big part of their energy consumption from energy produced from RES. This unfair allocation of obligations at first sight becomes fair and adequate, if one considers the special characteristics and the renewable energy potential of each member state, its energy mix as well as its existing level of energy from renewable sources which might be very low.
It will be obligatory for Member states to take measures for achieving their national overall targets. According to the Directive, they can apply support schemes or measures of cooperation between different Member States as well as with third countries The support schemes, that member states are free to determine, include every instrument capable to promote RES, such as increased selling prices for electricity produced by RES, tax incentives and the obligation of the customers to use a certain amount of energy produced from RES. However, for achieving the national goals rapidly and certainly, the combination of electricity production from RES within a member state and of import of such energy from third countries will be necessary. Further, the achievement of the targets, with many benefits for the regional economy and employment, depends on political conciliation through the conclusion of bilateral or multilateral interstate agreements between member states or with third countries. The cooperation has to be based on an interstate agreement, with the participation of interested private operators, e.g. companies which are engaged in the sector of construction and production of electricity by RES. Especially for Greece, a country connected with other Balkan countries which are non EU members, such as Turkey, Albania and FYROM, as well others, the said interstate cooperation is of great importance for future growth, as it will strengthen its role in the energy sector development of South-Eastern Europe.
The direct benefit derived out of this procedure is that the Directive enables Member States to count energy from renewable sources which is consumed in other Member States towards their own national targets. Thus, the energy produced from RES in third countries can be taken into account in the estimation of a country’s fulfilment of its obligation in accordance to the European provisions regarding the national goals for the reduction of greenhouse emissions. However, this requires that the electricity produced from RES will be consumed in the member state of the EU and not in the third country where it is produced, whereas only electricity produced by renewable energy installations which become operational after the entry into force of this Directive or by the increased capacity of an installation which was refurbished after 25/06/2009 should be eligible to be counted.
Balkan countries already show their interest to cooperate with EU member states. So, Italy and Albania concluded a cooperation agreement in 2006, based on which the biggest wind power park in Europe will be constructed with a capacity of 500MW and 250 wind turbines. The financing of the installation reaches 1,5 billion Euro while its construction is assigned to “Moncarda Construzioni”. Like Italy, Greece too needs to proceed into negotiations with neighbouring countries and private investors before relevant interest disappears, as other countries obviously consider already the coverage of their future energy needs, which are bound to increase in their territory, and the securing of their energy supply by using energy produced from RES in territories outside the EU.
Dr. Markela Stamati, LL.M., Senior Associate
Energy & Competition Law Team