EU Commission approves Austrian support scheme for renewable energies

The European Commission has found an Austrian scheme to support the production of energy from renewable sources in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it creates incentives for an increased use of renewable energy while containing safeguards to limit distortions of competition. The scheme is designed to assist Austria in reaching by 2020 the mandatory national renewable energy target set under EU legislation. The Commission found the proposed support for the generation of electricity from renewable sources in line with the 2008 Environmental Aid Guidelines rules.

The 2012 Green Electricity Act aims at supporting the production of electricity from renewable energy sources. This support will be granted with operating aid in the form of subsidised feed-in tariffs and investment grants. For certain types of green electricity bonuses can also be granted on top of the standard feed-in tariff, for example when electricity and heat from renewable sources are generated in a high efficiency cogeneration installation. The Commission's aim was to ensure that the aid does not lead to an overcompensation of the additional costs linked to the use of renewable sources.

The scheme is financed through two types of parafiscal charges. The current financing structure, unlike the previous one under the 2008 scheme, contains no exemption mechanism for energy intensive undertakings. The additional costs for producing green electricity are shared by all players. The Commission therefore concluded that the financing mechanism does not involve any selective advantage for energy intensive users. The aid linked to the exemption for energy intensive users foreseen in the 2008 measure had been found incompatible with the internal market in November 2009 (see IP/11/265, case SA.26036).

The Austrian authorities committed to renotify the scheme in 10 years.
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Posted by Gloria Llopis | 2012-03-21