European Wind and Solar Electricity Policies: Overview and Considerations

Author:  Brown, Phillip
Organization:  Congressional Research Service
Report Date: 
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This CRS report analyzes the European Union countries’ policies to deploy and develop photovoltaics and onshore wind energy through its goal to derive 20% of total energy consumption from renewable energy by 2020. 

Key Take-Aways: 
  • Germany, Spain and Italy are EU countries that have deployed renewable electricity generation systems at a relatively large scale.
  • EU countries are transitioning from electricity production-base incentives, such as feed-in-tariffs, to market integration incentives such as market premiums, bonus payments for remotely controlled wind and solar projects, and flexibility premiums for renewable generation to can reduce grid instability.  
  • EU countries are implementing retroactive incentive reductions to control costs associate with renewable electricity support, which will affect future renewable electricity deployment by introducing an element of policy risk causing financial costs and production costs to rise.
Key Facts: 
  • By 2012, Germany and Italy were the top two countries in terms of cumulative photovoltaic capacity with 32 gigawatts and 17 gigawatts respectively.
  • Germany has been rapidly reducing financial incentives for solar PV and has instated a solar PV capacity support limit of 52 gigawatts, and Italy has placed limits on financial support for renewable energy generation.