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The European Commission approves Dutch renewables subsidies

The European Commission has approved changes to the Dutch renewable energy support scheme, which will now also subsidise co-firing of biomass in coal plants.

From next year, no subsidies will be paid for periods when the wholesale price is negative, according to the changes.

The reformed scheme also introduces a separate bidding process for electricity produced from offshore wind. In the case of onshore wind, subsidies will be differentiated according to average wind speeds in different parts of the country.

The European Commission found that the modified scheme, which makes different forms of renewables compete in a bidding process, “supports renewable energy in a market based way” in line with the new EU state aid guidelines adopted last April.

The guidelines seek to push member states towards tendering and feed-in premiums instead of fixed feed-in tariffs.

Wind energy association EWEA argued that technology-neutral support systems such as the Dutch scheme “do not foster the deployment of emerging technologies”. It argued that offshore and onshore wind, for example, should not be made to compete in the same tendering process given their different stages of technological maturity.

The Dutch decision to have a separate bidding process for offshore wind is a “step in the right direction, but the question of technology neutrality still remains for onshore wind”, it said.

The EU guidelines have been challenged by the renewables industry, which argues that the Commission has overstepped its power by requiring technology-neutral schemes.

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Issue 41