News item | 2014-06-12 | 08:00 AM

Finnish wind power in Swedish grid seeks support from Europe

Should only domestic wind power be eligible for support under the Swedish renewable electricity incentive scheme? In other words, should a company from the Åland Islands be granted a Swedish green electricity certificate? The matter will shortly be settled by the European Court of Justice, whose decision may have far-reaching consequences for the various renewable electricity incentive schemes in the EU member states.

Five years ago Ålands Vindkraft AB applied for support under the Swedish renewable electricity incentive scheme for its onshore wind farm Oskar.
The Åland Islands are situated in Finnish waters but their electricity grid is connected to the Swedish grid. Consequently, the company applied for support under the Swedish green electricity certificate scheme.

However, the Swedish Energy Agency rejected the company's application on the grounds that only renewable electricity generated within Sweden was eligible for support under the Swedish incentive scheme.
Ålands Vindkraft AB appealed against the decision, maintaining that the Swedish Energy Agency's decision was contrary to the EU treaty's provisions on the free movement of goods.

Free movement

Two years ago Linköping administrative court referred the case to the European Court of Justice, which is due to reach a decision on 1 July.
The Court's Advocate-General Yves Bot has already given his opinion on the case. He believes that the Swedish Energy Agency's decision unjustifiably excludes the Åland-based company from the Swedish green electricity certificate scheme.

The EU directive on renewable energy contains an article which gives member states the right to decide themselves to what extent electricity generated in another country is eligible for their country's incentive scheme. The Advocate-General believes that this article is invalid since it is contrary to the EU treaty's provisions on the free movement of goods, and he therefore maintains that Ålands Vind is justified in appealing against the decision.

Harmonisation

If the European Court of Justice takes the line taken by the Advocate-General, this may have consequences for the various renewable electricity incentive schemes in the EU member states.


"If the court takes the line taken by the Advocate-General the decision will be associated with a number of conditions and restrictions relating to cross-border trade and possibly regional markets, and member states will have two years to adjust to the new regulations. But I find it hard to believe that this would lead to full harmonisation. The joint electricity certificate scheme in Sweden and Norway is well equipped to cope with this change. Other countries, on the other hand, will have to make radical changes to their schemes," says Claes Hedenström, policy manager for hydro power and renewable energy at Vattenfall.

The European incentive schemes are currently extremely diverse. All, however, are required to achieve the EU's target of increasing the proportion of renewable energy to 20 per cent of all energy consumption by 2020.
In Sweden, the electricity certificate scheme is designed to increase the generation of renewable electricity by 25 TWh between 2002 and 2020. In Germany, there is no specific target for how much renewable electricity generation is to be installed.

In Sweden, wind power owners are subsidised by 17-18 öre per Kwh, while the corresponding figure in Denmark is 60 öre or more.

Better conditions

Could this mean that Vattenfall might start building more offshore Swedish wind power and apply for support in Germany or Denmark, for example?
"The conditions for Swedish offshore wind power would be better but I'm not sure they would be good enough. But our Swedish onshore projects would probably be more profitable and we could, for example, export renewable