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Renewables sector appeals to European Commission for more stability around subsidy regimes

In the wake of a number of high profile Member State U turns around subsidy support to renewable energies, a cross sectoral industry group, has been calling on the European Commission to establish a legal instrument to provide investment protection against sudden subsidy cuts.  The group underlines how a number of national regulatory changes have led to an undermining of investor confidence and projects’ viability. The Commission is currently considering an EU arbitration mechanism that could be used by the renewables sector to seek compensation for the effects of retrospective policy and subsidy changes. Whilst the industry group understands that renewable energy support mechanisms need to be adjusted over time to reflect declining technology costs, it claims that retroactive changes are damaging. Over the past years, several Member States have enforced abrupt regulatory changes undermining the economic viability of existing projects. In the absence of any tangible European instrument to protect their legitimate expectations, investors have resorted to legal challenges at national level and to international arbitrations. As a result the group claims that renewable energy investments in Europe have halved in just four years. In contrast, they have consistently grown in China – reaching more than 80 billion US dollars in 2014.  In the UK, a Parliamentary inquiry has been launched on the impact of swinging subsidy changes.  Chairman of the committee, Angus MacNeil MP, confirmed that the inquiry is now seeking views on how investor confidence has been hit in the renewables sector, how UK renewables policy now compares to other countries' policies, and what steps the government can take to redress uncertainty around its decision making.  If you are interested in responding to this consultation visit the committee homepage. The European Commission meanwhile, as part of the buildup to the COP21 round in Paris in December, is looking towards a new climate governance framework that guarantees the achievement of the EU’s 27% renewable energy target by 2030. EU leaders have already agreed that the target should be binding at EU level but not divided into national targets as is the case currently. READ MORE

Issue 45