Correspondent's Choice

This story about a renewables feed-in tariff was published by EurActiv on 9th July 2010.

Speaking in Brussels yesterday (8 July), European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said the EU would need a harmonised feed-in tariff to boost investment in solar power and other renewable energies. His comments came as the parliament in his native Germany was voting to approve cuts to the national feed-in tariff.

The commissioner praised the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) for guaranteeing “a fair price” for renewable energy, urging Europe to adopt something similar.

“I think we need a European EEG,” the German suggested.

The ground-breaking regulation, adopted a decade ago, made Germany the world’s biggest solar market despite its northern location and paved the way for similar schemes to be applied elsewhere across Europe.

To integrate solar power from the Mediterranean region into the European market, infrastructure will have to be built between Morocco, Spain and France, as well as Tunisia, Italy and Germany, capable of reaching as far as Central European markets, Oettinger said.

“Maybe we need a Europe-wide guarantee and a Europe-wide price to get enough investment,” he said.

Feed-in tariffs (FiTs) oblige grid operators to buy renewable electricity at a favourable price in order to give emerging technologies such as solar and wind a fair chance of competing with fossil fuels. Over time, the tariffs are reduced as technological development brings production costs down.

The European Commission has periodically examined the option of harmonising national support schemes for renewables with the aim of removing barriers to production across national borders.

But its latest report in 2008 concluded that harmonisation at this point could disrupt the market by abolishing well-established national support schemes.

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