Photo: Panel debate with (from left:) Julian Popov, Fellow, European Climate Foundation, Mechthild Worsdorfer, Director at the European Commission's Photo: Directorate General for Energy, in charge of renewables, research and innovation, energy efficiency, James Watson, Chief Executive Officer, SolarPower Europe and Zhecho Stankov, Deputy Minister of Energy, Republic of Bulgaria. (Credit: POLITICO)

SolarPower Europe discuss Small is Beautiful and Clean Energy Package in Sofia

By: James Watson, CEO


April has been a busy month for SolarPower Europe, particularly on the policy front. With the negotiations on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED 2) in full swing, we have been engaging policymakers across the length and breadth of Europe. Pushing our agenda for a higher renewable energy target by 2030 -  ideally 35%, an ambitious framework for self-consumption and measures to eliminate retroactive measures, among other important issues. We have taken part in a number of high-level meetings and events during April and May.

Not least, SolarPower Europe had a major involvement in the informal Energy Ministerial meeting in Sofia hosted by the Bulgarian government who currently hold the EU Presidency. This was an important gathering, where the Member States discussed the RED 2 in detail. Starting on the eve of the summit, SolarPower Europe CEO, James Watson, spoke at a Politico event involving the Minister and Deputy Minister of Energy for Bulgaria and Mechthild Woersdoerfer Director for Renewables in the European Commission. This was live-streamed across Europe and provided the perfect opportunity to begin SolarPower Europe's call to action to gain more ambition from the Member States. The debate focused on the target for renewables and provided a good basis for encouraging the Bulgarians to push for a 30+% target from their EU colleagues.

The following morning, our CEO addressed the Bulgarian Parliament in a breakfast debate organised by Eufores and Chaired by MEP Claude Turmes, also involving the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Energy and Mechthild Woersdoerfer from the European Commission. This included MPs from all political persuasions in Bulgaria and focused mainly on the need to eliminate retroactive measures in Europe, given the experiences of Bulgaria. The target question was also addressed with broad support for a figure above 30% seeming the main outcome.

Having these scene setter debates did have an impact on the Informal Energy Ministerial, which discussed the targets and progress was made in the sense that it has become clear that a target of 30+% is indeed in the scope of the negotiations for the Council of the EU. Thus they moved from the stated position of 27% renewables by 2030 in the energy mix. Sadly the progress was less on self-consumption with some significant countries seeking to limit self-consumption to household users only.

This matter was the theme of the intervention of our CEO in the Bulgarian Presidency renewable energy event on the morning following the Informal Ministerial. This event was magnificently organised by SolarPower Europe member organisation, the Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) and our thanks go to Meglena Rusenova and her team for the excellent work they have done during the Bulgarian Presidency to support a solar framework in the RED 2 negotiations. Again the Minister and Deputy Minister of Bulgaria attended and Mrs. Woersdoerfer from the Commission. All attendees agreed that in light of the discussions in the Informal Energy Ministerial more needed to be done for solar self-consumption.

This leads to the work of SolarPower Europe on self-consumption and  our campaign "Small is Beautiful" which is being expertly led and skilfully coordinated by our Policy Director Aurelie Beauvais. The campaign has a strong focus on securing a stable framework for self-consumption, as well as securing priority dispatch and exemptions from balancing responsibilities for small scale solar installations. In the past month, Aurelie has broadened the coalition so that the 1000+ mayors of the Energy Cities initiative have joined the campaign, alongside the 5 million property owners of Europe (UIPI), the 1 million energy cooperatives of Europe (REScoop) and thousands of construction micro-enterprises and SMEs, represented by the European Building Confederation (EBC). This makes it one of the strongest alliances that has been created by SolarPower Europe - all of these and 13 other associations have joined forces to achieve a strong framework for self-consumption and are pushing for this now in the crucial final weeks of the negotiations. The work of the Small is Beautiful alliance will be vital to ensuring we get the best possible deal for solar self-consumption in the RED 2.

If you want to see a progressive self-consumption framework in Europe, with a broad definition to include commercial and industrial self-consumers in the RED 2, contact Aurelie at - we especially need support from energy intensive industries and commercial self-consumers. So please get in touch as soon as you can!


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