Romania RE cuts 'break EU rules'

Romania’s wind industry body claims the country’s government has failed to follow EU rules over cuts to incentives that take effect from July.

The Romanian government will cut back on support for wind and solar projects under its green certificate-based incentive scheme, following complaints that it was stoking electricity bills.

From 1 July until 2017 new wind projects will only get one green certificate instead of two, while solar projects will see their allowance cut to four from six.

The maximum value of the certificates will also be cut from €55 ($71.50) to €30.

The Romanian Wind Energy Association (RWEA) claimed the government’s approach is “misinformed”.

According to the industry body, Romanian officials have yet to notify the European Commission  (EC) over any cut-backs to the support scheme and obtain official approval, as they are required to do.

RWEA also questions whether the application of the cuts to wind and solar – while other renewable sources such as bioenergy remain untouched – breaches EU regulations.

The reductions are an about-turn by Romania, which spent three years gaining EC approval for what was considered the most generous support scheme for renewable energy producers in the EU, and one designed to help it achieve a 24% renewable energy share target for 2020.

Local media reports suggest 4,000 jobs in the country’s clean-energy sector could be at risk after the changes, if it leads to a scaling-back of ambitions by major foreign investors such as Czech utility CEZ, Portugal’s EDPR, Italy’s Enel and Spanish wind giant Iberdrola.

Under Romania’s previous renewable energy law, passed in 2008, the level of green certificate support was not due to fall until 2017.

But since the scheme launched in 2011, energy-intensive industries in Romania, such as steel and aluminum producers, have claimed that the renewable support scheme threatened their existence due to rapidly rising electricity prices.

There has also been controversy over the scheme’s impact on domestic power bills.