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Inter-institutional negotiations are running at top speed in Brussels. The Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union aims to achieve a final compromise on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive and on the proposal for the Governance of the Energy Union by June 2018. Negotiations are expected to be pushed forward in May 2018, as technical and working meetings between European co-legislators will take place almost every day in Brussels. So, what are the key issues at stake for the solar sector?
The renewable energy target for 2030 remains high on the solar agenda. Some progress has been made, while whispers from the European Council suggest that a 30% renewable target by 2030 (compared to the 27% target originally agreed by the Council) is a likely outcome. The pressure remains high on Member states to go beyond the psychological threshold of 30%, and closer to the 35% target set by the European Parliament in November 2017.
Positive progress on the target should not divert the attention from other crucial issues currently discussed in the frame of the RED II recast, such as the future framework for European solar prosumers. While the European Parliament has emerged as a self-consumption champion, promoting the uptake of new business models and the implementation of attractive schemes for solar prosumers, the approach of the European Council remains extremely conservative. In response to the Council's worrisome position on self-consumption, 32 national solar associations have recently sent a letter urging the Council to unlock the potential of self-consumption in Europe.
In the midst of these developments, the Electricity Market Design files are slowly coming back into the spotlight. The European Parliament announced it would start debating its negotiation mandate from the second half of May, and a first scoping trialogue has been announced for the 18th -19th of June, during the final EU Presidency event in Sofia.
The debate should remain formative until the Austrian Presidency takes over in July 2018, but several stakeholders have already taken their positions, and thus we can prepare for some tough battles to come. Small is Beautiful, a campaign initiated by SolarPower Europe in November 2017 to support small-scale renewable installations and cogeneration facilities in the EU, has scaled up drastically in the past month, with Energy Cities, RESCOOP, UIPI and ECB the latest members to join the campaign.
Together they bring the voice of more than 1 million European citizens, 1000 European cities,5 million property owners, as well as a strong workforce into action, to reopen the debate on priority dispatch and balancing responsibilities for small-scale renewable installations and ensure that the future regulatory framework will not disincentives local and small players to participate in the energy transition.