Regulation events in EDPR’s countries
Remuneration schemes in EDPR’s geographies
In May 2011 the Government released the draft of the new Renewable Energy Plan (“PER 2011-2020”) that was subsequently approved in November. In this document, the onshore wind target is maintained at 35 GW as targeted in the NREAP (National Renewable Energy Action Plan). However, the offshore wind target was reduced to 750 MW (from the 3 GW previously set in the NREAP).
In September 2011 the former industry ministry released a draft legislation aimed at regulating wind farms from 2012 onwards as the current legislation is due to expire. However, given the timing and the opposition of the industry sector, the former Government didn’t pass the law before the General Elections held in November 2011.
In January 2012 the newly appointed Spanish government announced a temporary suspension in the premium remuneration for renewable energy capacity. The suspension will not affect plants that are currently under operation or that have been included in the pre-assignation registry scheme. It’s expected that this decision will simply stop the building of new wind in 2013. However, the Government has emphasized that its commitment toward the 2020 Renewable Energy Target remains untouched.
EDPR has 110 MW (58 MW under construction) included in the pre-assignation register that will thus, not be affected by the new Royal Decree.
As part of the financial assistance programme, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU was signed in May 2011 between Portugal and the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank. The MoU listed several objectives for the Portuguese Energy Market, namely I) complete the liberalisation of the electricity and gas markets; II) ensure the sustainability of the national electricity system and avoid further unfavourable developments in tariffs deficit; III) ensure that the reduction of the energy dependence and the promotion of renewable energies is made in a way that limits the additional costs associated with the production of electricity under the ordinary and special (co-generation and renewables) regimes; ensure consistency of the overall energy policy, reviewing existing instruments, and IV) continue promoting competition in energy markets and to further integrate the Iberian market for electricity and gas (MIBEL and MIBGAS).
In August 2011 two decrees were released containing new rules for wind generation. These decrees are the consequence of the inclusion of wind farms under the ICPE regime (“Industries Classified for the Protection of the Environment”) that brings new requirements to operate wind farms, in order to assure the protection of the environment.
According to this new regulation all wind turbines with a tower height of more than 50 meters and those above 12 meters tall installed in a wind farm of at least 20 MW, must seek a new authorization permit. In addition, turbines subject to this authorization must be at least 10 to 30 kilometres from radars, depending on the type of radar. Moreover, from now on, wind generators must place a financial guarantee to cover the dismantling cost of the wind farm at the end of its operational life.
These new requirements resulting from the inclusion of wind farms in the ICPE category add a new layer to the development process.
In 2011 the Government also decided to abolish the accelerated depreciation tax incentive that allowed wind generators to depreciate their wind turbines in the first year of operations. The “IFER” tax (payable by all companies connected to the electrical grid) has also been raised.
This new requirements will apply to new wind farms, although the deposit to cover the dismantling cost and the tax increase will apply to all wind farms.
The French Government launched in 2011 a competitive tender for up to 3 GW of offshore wind power. This tender is the first phase of the installation of 6 GW of offshore wind energy that the government has committed for 2020, in order to comply with its National Renewable Energy Action Plan.
The Wallonia government was due to revise the legal remuneration framework for renewables in the first half of 2011, however this has not happened yet. It is expected that the Government will review in 2012 the number of green certificates granted to each renewable technology in order to scale back support for more mature renewable technologies, among which onshore wind could be included.
All EDPR’s wind farms in Belgium are located in Wallonia region.
On December 22nd, 2011, the Polish Minister of Economy officially presented a package of new legislative acts that are expected to replace the Act of April 10th, 1997 (Energy Law). Although this draft is still subject to changes, it seems that the current green certificate support scheme will remain in place although it is likely to be partially amended. The most significant possible amendments are the following:
First, it could introduce banding to the green certificate scheme which, so far, has always been technology-neutral. With a banding system, wind onshore support is expected to be undermined. The draft doesn’t provide neither a minimum price nor a buyer of last resort for green certificates.
Second, the draft, for the first time, specifically guarantees that the issuance period for green certificates is 15 years. Under the current legislation, although the industry assumed that the support will be maintained, it had never been clarified hitherto.
If approved, this new regulation could have an impact on all of EDPR’s projects under development.
In July 2011 the European Commission (EC) gave clearance to the implementation of Law 220/2008, which means green light to the double green certificate per MWh that wind generators are entitled to receive until 2017. Implementation had been delayed for more than two years while the Romanian Government awaited a decision from the European Commission over its compatibility with the European rules. The enforcement came through in October by the enactment of an emergency order that has also introduced some amendments to the original law. For example, according to this order, wind farms will only receive one green certificate during the testing period and its validity period is reduced to 16 months. Additionally, in order to avoid overcompensation of new wind farms, the new regulation entitles ANRE (Energy Regulator) to reduce the period of applicability of the support scheme or the number of green certificates initially granted, although only for new wind farms. Finally, the Emergency Order requires operators of wind farms of installed capacity above 125 MW to individually notify the European Commission.
The Emergency Order will apply both to EDPR’s wind farms under operations and new projects. In Romania, EDPR has 3 wind farms in operation, totalling 285 MW.
In March 2011, the Government enacted a new renewable energy law aimed at progressively phasing out the current green certificate scheme, which has, so far, been the cornerstone of the renewable energy’s regulation.
According to this new decree wind farms up to 5 MW that begin operations on or after January 1st, 2013 would be rewarded with a fixed incentive price, while larger facilities would have to take part in a competitive bidding processes (to be defined by Dutch Auctions). EDPR’s pipeline is likely to be ruled under this regime.
Wind farms online by December 31st, 2012 will be ruled by a transitional regime. Pursuant to this regime, operating wind farms will continue to apply to the green certificates system until 2015, after which, they would be absorbed into a feed-in tariff scheme. As the Green Certificate Obligation will decrease each year until disappearing in 2015, the “Gestore dei Servizi Elettrici”(GSE) which is a state energy agency that operates the Green Certificate market, will buyback any green certificate exceeding the demand on the market. The price at which the GSE will withdraw the green certificates is 78% of the reference price (defined at 180 euros minus the previous year’s average electricity price). 20 MW of wind farm under construction could be ruled by this transitional regime, provided they start operations before the end of 2012.
The new Decree sets only the general framework while details will be ironed-out by ad hoc Ministerial decrees to be released in 2012.
In August 2011 the Italian Government approved the Decree 138/2011, more commonly known as the “Robin Hood Decree” that increases the taxation of electricity generation with an extra 10,5% corporate tax over the next 3 years.
By this decision, Renewable energy companies, provided their annual revenue exceeds 10 million euros, are subject to the “Robin Hood tax”, from which they initially had been exempted.
The UK Government presented in December 2010 the Electricity Market Reform (EMR) package and opened subsequently a consultation process. In this document, the Government expressed its willingness to establish a feed-in tariff system for electricity produced from renewable sources, while maintaining the renewable obligation certificate system. Other measures were the introduction of capacity payments aimed at fostering the construction of reserve plants and the introduction of a floor price for carbon emissions.
Regarding the floor price for carbon emissions, the Budget law 2011 approved its introduction in 2013 at GBP 16 per tonne of CO2 increasing up to GBP 30 in 2020.
Consequently, the UK will become the first country in the world to have a carbon price floor for the power sector to encourage investment in all forms of renewable energy, including controversially, new nuclear power.
In July 2011 the Government presented to parliament two legislative proposals connected to the EMR. The first one, included in the EMR White Paper, is the introduction of a feed-in tariff contract for difference (FIT CfD) which was the Government’s preferred option among the choices listed in the EMR. However, the details have still not been decided. The FiT CfD is intended to progressively replace the UK Renewables Obligation. To ensure a smooth transition,
the FiT CfD is scheduled to be introduced in 2014 as an alternative to the Renewables Obligation. The Renewables Obligation will no longer be open to new contracts from April 1st, 2017, although grandfathering of existing contracts will apply. The second proposal contained in the UK renewable energy roadmap, is to increase the offshore wind target to 18 GW (up from the 13 GW targeted in the National Renewable Energy Action Plan).
Lastly, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has presented a proposal for the Renewable Obligation Banding review applicable to England and Wales between 2013 and 2017. The same banding levels have been suggested by the Scottish Government. If approved, the new banding will favour offshore wind, which will be consistent with the planned increase of the offshore wind 2020 target.
Up until now, all of EDPR’s projects in the UK are offshore, thus, could benefit from the new banding if finally approved.
On the whole, US states continue to support Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) policies. In the past year, ten States proposed the creation of, or an increase in, such standards, while only five States introduced bills to reduce or to repeal renewable energy standards. The overall impact of successful RPS changes is positive: California established a 33% renewable energy standard and Indiana passed a 20% clean energy goal. Renewable energy also expanded to new states in the Southeast, as utilities in Alabama and Louisiana signed wind power purchase agreements.
The other important element of renewables incentives, Production Tax Credit (PTC), is currently expiring in December 2012. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced to grant an extension of the PTC, and the industry is working with congressional leadership on passing a PTC extension.
In 2011, policy change was driven by the Environmental Protection Agency which pursued a clean energy agenda. In July, the EPA issued the Cross State Air Pollution Rule aimed at limiting sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from power plants that cross state lines. However, implementation of the rule has been delayed by legal challenges. In December, the EPA announced its final Utility MACT Rule, which will regulate mercury and other toxic emissions from coal and oil-burning power plants, which is also being challenged.
The October 6th election in the province of Ontario put an end to months of uncertainty over the future of its feed-in tariff. The re-election of Ontario’s Liberal government has relieved the wind sector as the Progressive Conservative Party had threatened during its campaign to abolish the feed-in tariff. However, the incentive is due for a scheduled review, and its C$135/MWh rate for onshore wind could be trimmed.
All of EDPR’s pipeline in Canada is located in Ontario.
In August 2011 the Electric Power Commercialization Chamber (CCEE) conducted two tenders for power contracts: an A- 3 Energy Auction (power plants scheduled to come on line in three years) and a Capacity Auction to supply 3.9 GW of electricity capacity, of which, 1.9 GW was allocated to wind. The average price was R$99/ MWh, which represented a new record low tariff with wind being the cheapest source, below the price of other technologies in the auction including combined cycle generation technology (CCGT), large hydro and biomass.
On December 20th, an A- 5 auction was conducted contracting a total of 1.2 GW of new electricity capacity. Overall, wind energy was once again the highlight as the lion’s share of total capacity went to wind (976 MW) at an average price of R$105/MWh. EDPR, secured a tender for a 20 year PPA for a 120 MW wind farm.