26 April 2013
The real overall cost of intermittent renewable energy must be better assessed and revealed, urges the EESC
The debate on the overall cost of electricity from intermittent renewable energy sources must be completely transparent and the data publicly available, said the European Economic and Social Committee at Wednesday's Informal Meeting of Energy Ministers in Dublin.
The EESC argues that a sustainable energy system – comprised largely of renewables – is the only long-term solution to our energy future but transparency and a more open debate on costs' related issues are essential for paving the way, maintaining the strong support of citizens and preparing the required policy decisions.
Transparency about the cost of various energy systems will go a long way towards ensuring that energy decisions consider the real costs of the required complete system, said the EESC when it presented its opinion on the economic effects of electricity systems created by increased and intermittent supply from renewable sources. This opinion was requested by the Irish Presidency.
"An increase in electricity production from intermittent renewable energy sources will inevitably lead to significantly higher costs for electricity users, both industrial and domestic," said the opinion's rapporteur, Mr Gerd Wolf (Germany, Various Interests' Group).
According to the EESC, the cost of feeding energy output into the grid from intermittent RES is estimated to represent roughly only half of the total cost. Beyond a certain share of the energy mix, intermittent RES require additional components of the energy system to be put in place: grid extensions, storage facilities, and reserve capacities.
If these components are not made available, it will lead to an inefficient use of the installed facilities, as well as threats to the security of energy supply and to a viable European energy market, warned the EESC.
Therefore any extra costs beyond those mentioned above need to be urgently avoided. They may result from inappropriate and inconsistent RES-support measures within member states. They risk leading to market fragmentation, inefficiencies and acceptance problems by citizens. Feed-in rules for RES therefore need to be carefully defined or redefined, argued the EESC.
The cost issue with its opportunities and problems must become more transparent, thoroughly and quantitatively analysed and openly discussed. The establishment of a European Energy Dialogue, which the EESC has called for, would be a major step in this direction, said Mr Stéphane Buffetaut (Employer's Group, France), the president of the EESC Section for Energy.
The EESC is convinced that, by providing more clarity on the total costs of intermittent RES and alternative energy options, the EU could substantially improve policy-making and ease transition towards a low carbon economy. The EESC also strongly supports the move towards a European Energy Community, since this is the best way to develop Europe's potential in a cost-efficient way.
For more information, please contact:
EESC Press Unit
Tel.: +32 2 546 8722
The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 344 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.