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EDITORIAL: 2030 targets – An important commitment towards a more stable regulatory framework

Date : November 2014

By Frauke Thies, Policy Director

After months of negotiations, European Heads of State eventually agreed on a Climate and Energy package for 2030 at the end of October. European leaders put forward a set of three targets, including a binding target of at least 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels, an EU binding target of at least 27% of renewables in the energy mix and a non-binding target of at least 27% increase in energy efficiency.

Even if EPIA has promoted much higher ambition, we are glad that our core ask - an EU-binding target for renewable energy - is part of the deal. However, the 27% number is clearly too low to unlock the full potential of solar. It also falls far short of the new Commission President Juncker’s ambition for Europe’s Energy Union to become the world number one in renewable energies. Finally, no breakdown of the renewables objective into nationally binding targets is foreseen, leaving important questions regarding the actual enforcement.

Nevertheless, the renewables target in itself is an important political signal that investments in solar will continue in Europe. After a period of retroactive and other unplanned changes to solar-related regulation in several European countries, the binding renewables target is a welcome commitment in favour of more stable and predictable regulatory frameworks for future investments. Importantly, the renewables objective also signals the decision makers’ willingness to be serious about market design and create appropriate market conditions allowing solar power and other renewables to continue growing.

With a stable and predictable framework in place, solar can compete and progress in the energy market far beyond the 2030 target. We will work closely with the European Commission, Parliament and Council in the coming months to ensure an effective implementation of the defined 2030 objectives and pave the way for further solar growth.


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HIGHLIGHT: Business opportunities in a solar-powered world

Date : November 2014

By James Watson, Chief Executive Officer

At the EU Utility Week in Amsterdam EPIA confirmed its leading role in shaping the future of the European energy landscape, through convening a formal session of the Strategic Programme. EPIA profiled solar and the many opportunities the technology offers in front of a large audience, made up of leading European utilities.

The EPIA session gathered experts from the International Energy Agency (IEA), network operators (TenneT, STEDIN), utilities (ENEL Group), the power market (EPEX Spot) and the solar industry (First Solar). These key partners discussed the opportunities arising from a power system where decentralised renewables represent a major share. 

The session explored how Europe’s energy landscape is evolving and participants agreed that conventional market players have to fundamentally re-think their business approach in Europe, in the context of solar power becoming an increasingly cost-competitive solution that empowers consumers.  

In its recent Technology Roadmap, the IEA estimates that the cost of solar has decreased by two thirds over the past six years and could decrease by another 65% by 2050. There is no doubt that solar energy will soon represent a significant share of the power system. 

It is clear from the discussions that understanding the dynamics of solar power and embracing the many business opportunities of a solar-powered world is a very pragmatic and obvious move for any company in the energy sector which wants to be part of the future. 

As a positive driver for change, solar was in everybody’s mind at the European Utility Week. Several speakers clearly identified solar as a great opportunity for utilities to finally bridge the missing link between them and the final consumers.

The EPIA session “Transforming the power business - Opportunities in a renewable-driven and decentralised power system” was part of series of interventions EPIA made during the European Utility Week that took place from 4-6 November in Amsterdam. More information is available here.


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European energy regulators report: The truth about energy prices

Date : November 2014

By Giorgia Concas, Policy Advisor

In October 2014, ACER and CEER – the two European organisations gathering national energy regulators – issued a joint report displaying the results of a year of comprehensive gas and electricity market monitoring.

Titled “Annual Report on the Results of Monitoring the Internal Electricity and Natural Gas Markets in 2013”, the report brings a welcome contribution to the debate on the impact of financial support to renewable energies on consumers’ bills. While renewable energy charges have been amongst the main drivers for the increase in the so-called “non-contestable part” of retail electricity bills (i.e. network tariffs and taxes) in recent years, such charges represent a very limited share of the bills. In 2013 these corresponded to less than 6% of the average tariff paid by a household living in a European capital.

Thanks to massive cost reductions in renewable energy technologies, in particular in solar, 2013 can be considered as a peak year in terms of support to renewables. Unlike some increasingly expensive conventional energy technologies, solar will progressively require less financial support as it becomes cost competitive. 

Moreover, in many EU countries, if the benefits of the renewables development on the wholesale market prices were transferred to the retail level, the decline in “contestable charges” (i.e. the commodity component) would offset the increase in “incontestable charges".

This report confirms the findings of the European Commission Communication on “Energy prices and costs in Europe” and its Staff Working Document on “Energy Economic Developments in Europe”, published in January 2014, that EPIA analysed in a briefing document.


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Minutes from the Board Meeting of 11-12 September now available

Date : November 2014

The Minutes of the Board Meeting that took place on 11 & 12 September 2014 are now available online for EPIA Members.

To access the document, click here (log in first to the Members Area of the website).


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ADVERTORIAL: Visibility opportunities and brand promotion solutions exclusively for EPIA Members

Date : November 2014

By Kinga Timaru-Kast, Head of Membership & Business Development

The EPIA team is pleased to present to you a wide variety of exclusive visibility opportunities and brand promotion solutions in our 2015 sponsorship packages.

The EPIA sponsorship offers gives you the chance to increase your brand visibility, to enter into dialogue with key players and to position your company at the forefront of the solar energy sector.

Check out the 2015 visibility packages here and choose the option that best fits your marketing strategy!

EPIA is offering you the following visibility opportunities and brand promotion solutions to choose from:

  • The online package, boost your visibility and reach quickly the entire solar community

  • Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics, the renowned publication of the industry, to gain international recognition

  • EPIA’s Thematic webinars, to be established as a leading expert in the PV-sector

  • EPIA events, rewards you with a unique platform to profile your brand and interact with stakeholders and potential new business partners
Interested in these offers or do you have other ideas? Let's discuss! Our experts will be happy to assist you in the design of the most effective sponsorship package, tailored to your specific communication needs.

For further information contact Kinga Timaru-Kast, Head of Membership & Business Development, at  k.timaru@epia.org or by phone: +33 2 709 55 41  


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EPIA Members Directory – 2015 Edition: Update your company profile

Date : October 2014

By Myrto Papoutsi, Business Development & Project Officer

EPIA will shortly begin the official update of Member companies’ profiles in the EPIA Members Directory, giving our members the opportunity to enhance their brand’s visibility by reaching key stakeholders from the whole PV value chain and the energy sector.

The “EPIA Activities & Membership – 2015 Edition”, which will be available both in print and online, is an indispensable networking tool and exclusive guide for all EPIA members, as well as all people interested in the solar photovoltaic sector. The “EPIA Activities & Membership – 2015 Edition” is printed in a handy 'stretched A5' format and is distributed throughout the whole year at major events in which EPIA participates, giving our members the chance to boost their visibility and promote their brand. 

Our members will be contacted shortly by Publishing Events, the company selected by EPIA to gather the data, providing our members with their access codes and further details for updating their company's profile. Please note that the deadline to complete and submit your company’s entry is 12 December 2014.

For any questions, please contact Myrto Papoutsi on +32 (0)2 709 55 46 or email: m.papoutsi@epia.org


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PRESS RELEASE - Council decision on 2030: Lacking Ambition

Date : October 2014

By Benjamin Fontaine, Senior Communications Advisor

The European Council adopted a Climate and Energy framework for 2030. While the agreed EU-binding target of at least 27% for renewable energy is too low to unlock the full potential of solar, it represents an important signal that investments in solar photovoltaics will continue.

Read the Press Release here.

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EDITORIAL: A difficult start for the first-ever Vice-President for Energy Union

Date : October 2014

By James Watson, Chief Executive Officer

European Commission President-elect, Jean-Claude Juncker, has initiated significant structural changes to the Commission. The most visible one is the introduction of a two-level college of Commissioners, consisting of seven Vice-Presidents and 20 Commissioners.
The Vice-President for Energy Union is responsible for steering and coordinating the work of a pool of seven Commissioners, including Commissioner-designate for Climate Action & Energy, Spaniard Miguel Arias Cañete. While the voting weight remains unchanged between Members of the Commission – one Member one vote – Vice-Presidents will act as filters, deciding on which initiatives can be submitted to the entire college of Commissioners for consideration.

EPIA welcomes this new procedure and structure, which could bring coherence and strength to European decisions in the energy field. We also fully support priorities highlighted by President-elect Juncker in his mission letter to the Vice-President-designate, such as the objective for “the EU to become the world number one leader in renewable energies”, the focus on “completing the internal energy market” and on “increasing competition”, and the development of a “resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy”. 

Despite these encouraging innovations and objectives, the false start of Vice-President-designate, Slovenian Alenka Bratušek, could ultimately weaken the position of Energy Union Commissioner. Every Commissioner-designate went through a hearing session in front of the relevant committee members within the European Parliament. Ms. Bratušek’s hearing went particularly badly. Indeed, she left members of the ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy) and ENVI (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) committees unimpressed, leading to her formal rejection during an unequivocal vote (112 votes to 13).

Following Bratušek’s official resignation, the Slovenian government has put forward Violeta Bulc as the new candidate for the country. It is quite unlikely that the replacement nominee will be given the same senior position within the Commission, as this could further raise doubts and opposition from the European Parliament. It appears that President-elect Juncker will be forced to reshuffle portfolios between the different candidates. He will have a hard time finding a consensual configuration for his new Commission. The shaky start of the first-ever Vice-President for Energy Union and the ongoing reshuffle are bad news for the authority and leadership that such a strategic function requires. President-elect Juncker now needs to appoint a solid and committed individual for the job.

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HIGHLIGHT: European Commission study brings welcome transparency on the true cost of energy

Date : October 2014

By Frauke Thies, Policy Director

The European Commission has released on 13 October its long-awaited interim report on “Energy subsidies and costs in the EU”, assessing both direct public support and un-accounted external costs for the different energy sources.

The study demonstrates that society is paying more for conventional energy technologies today, than it is for solar. Taking into account both subsidies and the cost of externalities like human health damages, environmental effects and resources depletion, the total cost of fossil and nuclear technologies by far exceeds the total cost of solar. 

Furthermore, if external costs are excluded from the calculation, the study still demonstrates the economic strength of solar: Even in a special year for photovoltaics like 2012*, mature nuclear and coal technologies received almost the same level of support as solar, if historic support that can be directly linked to the production of today is factored in.
 

While the Commission had already withhold subsidy figures for conventional technologies in another publication earlier this year, it first appeared that the subsidy report could be delayed or suppressed again. Following a Joint Letter with other renewable energy associations that EPIA had initiated, the Commission finally did publish the study, after what we understand has been a strong internal debate. Very active during the stakeholder process accompanying the development of the study, EPIA welcomed the release of the report.
    

* The study estimates that significant support to solar power was introduced only recently and probably reached its peak in 2012.


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Clear national targets and appropriate regulatory frameworks key to solar growth, says the International Energy Agency

Date : October 2014

By Giorgia Concas, Policy Advisor

In its recently published “Solar Photovoltaic Energy Technology Roadmap 2014”, the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirms that solar has undergone tremendous cost reductions in the last years and that the potential for further cost decline is still huge.

The IEA estimates that solar system prices have decreased by two thirds in just six years in most markets and that the cost of solar technology could go down by another 65% by 2050. The IEA has also updated upwards its forecast and now predicts that solar could generate up to 16% of the world’s electricity by 2050. The Agency, however, warns that the increasing solar competitiveness alone will not lead to market development.

Clear political targets set at country level and appropriate regulatory frameworks are needed to increase investors’ visibility and confidence, and to lower the cost of capital of solar projects, making them even more competitive.

The IEA recognises that the lack of long-term price visibility inherent to current market designs is an obstacle to investments in capital-intensive technologies, such as solar. To overcome this barrier, policy frameworks need to strike a balance between predictable financial schemes and gradual exposure to market prices.


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Benjamin Fontaine
EPIA
Contact
Benjamin Fontaine
Senior Communications Advisor
@ : b.fontaine@epia.org
T. : +32 (0)2 709 55 23

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