The European Commission is reconsidering the position of gas in its sustainable finance taxonomy by recognising the fossil fuel’s role in keeping the lights on during peak electricity demand, according to a leaked document seen by EURACTIV.
Campaigners have urged the European Commission to reject a proposed aid scheme for the Greek power sector, saying the draft plan will allow “backdoor subsidies” for a new coal-fired power plant in Greece, in violation of the EU’s recently-updated electricity market rules.
Whether it relates to electricity prices charged to customers, the calculation of grid availability across borders, or the EU’s law-making process itself, the quest for transparency has emerged as a cross-cutting theme in Europe’s ongoing power market reform.
Davide Crippa, Italy’s Undersecretary for Economic Development, has announced the country’s withdrawal from a seven-country alliance led by Poland, which argued for preserving national sovereignty over decisions to finance emergency power plants.
Figures compiled by the environmental pressure group Greenpeace highlight the lack of transparency about the amount of cash disbursed by national governments to support back-up power plants – mainly fossil fuels and nuclear.
The European Commission wants to limit state aid for power plants that EU countries remunerate to remain on stand-by in case of demand peak. As negotiations on the EU’s new electricity market enter the home straight, EURACTIV lists the main issues to watch out for in the debate.
Mostly out of pragmatism, the European Commission has adopted a rather tolerant approach to “capacity mechanisms” – national schemes that remunerate back-up power plants – accepting that EU countries face different challenges in the energy transition.
Detractors of capacity mechanisms argue they are mere state aid for dirty fossil fuels that should be eliminated as soon as possible while supporters claim they provide vital back-up in the transition to renewable electricity. The fact that both are correct is leaving Europe in a quandary.