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"Small is Beautiful" campaign launched with joint call for a "de minimis" approach

Twelve European renewable energy trade associations have launched a joint campaign urging EU policymakers to take a step-wise "de minimis" approach towards the market integration of small-scale renewable and high-efficiency cogeneration installations.

Illustrating the commercial advances of household renewable energy possibilities – Austria-based boiler manufacturer Ökofen showcasing a wood pellet boiler, with or without micro-combined heat and power (CHP) integrated with solar photovoltaic (PV) and/or battery storage.

Representing key players across the renewable energy industry behind Europe’s energy transition, twelve European trade associations have jointly called on EU policymakers to take a step-wise “de minimis” approach towards the market integration of small-scale renewable and high-efficiency cogeneration installations.

Whilst the European institutions are negotiating the recast of the Electricity Market Design Regulation, the signatories of the declaration have launched a “Small Is Beautiful” campaign, aiming at highlighting the benefits of small-scale, clean and locally owned installations to move progressively towards a decentralised energy system.

Small installations empower territories, small businesses, and consumers. When it comes to solar, they are also the biggest job providers. We must reflect on the energy transition we want to see emerging in Europe, said James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe.

According to the joint declaration, these benefits are threatened by the European Parliament’s current proposal requiring all power generators to be “balancing responsible” and the blanket removal of priority dispatch.

Power markets not “fit” for small-scale

Small-scale renewable and high-efficiency cogeneration installations are generally run by private consumers, households, communities, farmers, cooperatives or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and benefit the local economy. However, European power markets are generally not “fit” for small installations. Removing the balancing responsibility exemptions and priority dispatch will result in disproportionate costs and technical and administrative burdens.

Keeping the priority dispatch and access regimes for small installations as proposed by the European Commission is fundamental for empowering energy consumers and boosting investments in local sustainable and efficient energy solutions, said Hans Korteweg, Managing Director of COGEN Europe.

Rather than encouraging the participation of consumers or SMEs in the energy transition, the current proposals on the table would act as a disincentive. Signatories of the declaration, therefore, urge policymakers to maintain priority dispatch and the exemption of balancing responsibilities for small-scale renewable and highly efficient cogeneration installations.

A balanced approach is key to enable the advent of an increasingly distributed energy system, empowering energy consumers and contributing to the economic and social dynamism of local communities and small businesses.

To accelerate the energy transition, investor risk needs to be reduced. Exemptions to balancing responsibility and maintaining priority dispatch go a long way in achieving this. All the more so for demonstration projects for innovative technologies: the lower the risk, the faster they can be taken to market, said Rémi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe.

About Small is Beautiful

The European Union has made a clear commitment to have global leadership in renewable energies. The Clean Energy Package should be the main driver of this ambition. To achieve this objective, the new Electricity Market Design framework must balance efforts to encourage large-scale rapid deployment of renewables, while encouraging smaller scale, locally owned, distributed renewable energy. Removing the current exemption regime for small installations on balancing responsibilities and priority dispatch will result in heavy technical and administrative burdens on companies and be prohibitive for small actors including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who wish to engage in the energy transition.

The twelve organisations are European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), European Association of Electrical Contractors (AIE), The European Association for the Promotion of Cogeneration (COGEN Europe), European Biogas Association (EBA), European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC), European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), European Renewable Energies Federation (EREF), The Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC), Ocean Energy Europe, Solar Heat Europe (ESTIF), Solar Power Europe and Wind Europe.

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