EU legislation changes to boost confidence in solar power

Solar panels in Switzerland.

Changes to EU law look likely to significantly build business confidence in solar power, according to trade association the STA and Solar Power Europe, in a 14 June announcement.

The changes come in the form of the EU’s revised Renewable Energy Directive. Crucial details have yet to be published in full, but the new EU measures include:

· Recognition of the role and rights of prosumers, local Government & community energy
· The potential to run technology-specific tenders for large-scale solar
· Simplified & less costly red tape for installing solar power
· Potential to sell surplus solar power via aggregators, Power Purchase Agreements and peer-to-peer trading and to receive at least the market price
· Protection from retrospective charges on solar
· Exemptions on fees on charges for self-consumed solar up to 25kW that remains within the premises, from 2026.

STA CEO Chris Hewett said;
“The European Union understands how vital it is to empower everyday people and organisations to invest in solar power. The measures the EU will put into law in 18 months time should give much needed confidence to the UK solar & storage industries that the playing field between small investors and the traditional industry is starting to level. We urge the UK Government to follow suit and provide a level playing field for diverse investors in solar power as soon as possible.”

The EU breakthrough comes as the UK solar industry struggles under a cloud of uncertainty, having waited over a year for the long-promised new policy framework for when the FIT closes next March. Energy Minister Claire Perry could not confirm that the call for evidence would be published before the summer recess when she was questioned by MPs in the Commons on Tuesday, leaving the industry in the dark.

However, the new EU measures should give some comfort to the industry that fair remuneration for exported surplus solar will be safeguarded, with the potential for communities to trade their solar power. The proposals also open the possibility of solar-specific clean power auctions, which the solar industry has been shut out of for 3 years in the UK.

James Watson, CEO of Solar Power Europe said;
“The deal is a good one for solar. We see a much more ambitious target than was expected just a few months ago. Households wake up this morning with the knowledge that they will have a new right – the right to self- generate, consume and store the energy they produce. This is a major achievement.”

The agreement text needs to be informally agreed by the EU Council & EU Parliament later this month and EU countries are expected to bring the law into force by 1 January 2021. The UK is expected to comply with EU laws until the end of 2021, under the Brexit transition arrangements.