Brussels looks at removing RES priority dispatch rights in EU

RES producers may lose their priority dispatch rights to European grid networks, according to a detailed Brussels document leaked to the press just ahead of energy policy revisions at the European Commission.

Until now, RES power production has enjoyed priority dispatch rights over conventional power stations in a pool accessed by network operators. This approach has been maintained to enable RES development and support efforts to achieve long-term energy and climate change objectives set by the EU.

RES electricity production’s loss of priority dispatch rights may lead to an increase of greenhouse emissions by as much as 10 percent, according to the Brussels document, obtained and used by British daily The Guardian in a report.

The European Commission document analyzes four alternatives that could make European electricity production more flexible and competitive.

RES officials have already expressed concern over the European Commission’s thoughts of removing the priority dispatch rights for the sector.

Their removal would negatively impact wind-energy development and contravene the EU’s wider plan for the next decade to keep retreating from fossil fuels and increase RES penetration, warned Oliver Joy, a spokesperson at the WindEurope support group advocating wind-energy development, in the Guardian report.

The WindEurope spokesperson added that investors had taken into account the availability of dispatch priority rights when making RES investment decisions, noting that a change now would have repercussions on existing plans.

Representatives at conventional electricity production units have responded by noting that RES producers benefit from low operating costs, and, as a result, will, in practice, have priority access to networks. The removal of the priority dispatch rights will help eradicate negative pricing in the electricity market and also lead to the discontinuation of subsidies, which are affecting competition, the representatives added.

As for the European Commission’s stance, the Brussels document states that the eradication of RES dispatch priority rights is a necessary step towards the establishment of a fair electricity production environment in which the same rules will apply for all.

RES sector officials have pointed out that, based on the current system, natural gas-fueled electricity producers are paid to keep their units on stand-by, an approach that could also be applied to the RES sector if its dispatch priority rights are taken away.

The Brussel report notes that RES production would be mostly affected in Denmark, the UK and Finland if the dispatch priority right is ended.