With an amendment to the Electricity Industry and Organisation Act passed by Parliament, the network reserve will become part of Austria's congestion management system. The aim of the network reserve is to achieve network stability and security of supply in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Procurement is carried out within the framework of a transparent, non-discriminatory and market-oriented tendering procedure.
The eagerly awaited draft Renewable Energy Expansion Act (EAG) was recently published for evaluation. To help achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement 2015, the draft creates new framework conditions for the expansion of renewable energy in Austria. In view of the high level of funding, the EAG leaves no doubt that the expansion of renewable energies is one of Austria's main objectives for the next 10 years. However, a look at other countries clearly shows that funding alone will not be enough.
EU Regulation 2017/460 established a network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures (TAR NC). On 31 January 2019 E-Control – Austria's national regulatory authority – published its consultation document on the implementation of the TAR NC in Austria. This article discusses the subsequent developments.
The new government composed of the Austrian People's Party and the Green Party recently presented the government programme for 2020 to 2024, which contains comprehensive measures to promote the expansion of renewable energies. Accordingly, the Renewable Energies Expansion Act, which has been planned for a long time and was drawn up under the penultimate government, is to be enacted as quickly as possible.
The Supreme Court recently considered whether distribution network operators must provide network users with a written cost estimate for a grid connection even if the general obligation to connect final customers to the grid is still in dispute and has yet to be decided by the competent authority. The case has clarified whether a network operator's obligation to provide a cost estimate presupposes that its connection obligation is undisputed or has already been legally established.
The Communist Party's Central Comprehensive Deepening Reform Committee recently approved the Implementation Opinions on the Reform of the Operation Mechanism of the Oil and Gas Pipeline Network and the establishment of an independent national oil and gas pipeline network company. This initiative will significantly transform China's oil and gas sector into a more competitive and non-discriminatory environment for all players.
As photovoltaic (PV) technology advances, development and construction costs continue to decrease. In 2017 the average construction cost for new PV power plants was 45% lower than in 2012, which led the state to reduce subsidies and ease the pressure on subsidy funds. As such, in May 2018 and January 2019 various government bodies issued two policies concerning PV power generation, which have both contributed to the industry's development.
Croatian state-owned electricity company HEP Group is seeking partners for renewable energy projects. To this end, the company has launched an open call for expressions of interest in the development and sale of renewable energy source (RES) projects. HEP's latest initiative relates to the development and construction of different RES projects in Croatia, as well as the integration of completed projects and those in an advanced stage of development into its power generation portfolio.
Four new exploration blocks in the Dinarides have been offered in the third licensing round for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Croatia. This recent licensing round of the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency focuses on the central and southern regions. The deadline for the submission of bids is 10 September 2019 and the licences are tentatively scheduled to be announced in December 2019.
The second of three planned onshore licencing rounds for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Croatia is currently underway. Seven exploration blocks in southwest and central Croatia and central Slavonia have been offered in this bidding round. After the tender procedure has been completed and the most successful bidder has been selected, the Croatian government will issue a decision on awarding an onshore exploration and exploitation licence for each of the seven blocks.
Geothermal energy has long been used for district heating in Denmark, but lately political and industry interest therein has been on the rise. This has resulted in an increase in applications to explore for and produce geothermal energy. Since 2017, five new exploration licences have been granted and five additional licences are currently being assessed by the Danish Energy Agency. Geothermal energy will help to fulfil the political goal of a carbon-neutral Denmark by 2050.
The Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities recently invited companies to take part in the eighth Danish licensing round for oil and gas exploration and production in the Danish North Sea. Licences were expected to be issued this summer, but political pressure on the government elected in June 2019 means that the eighth licensing round's future is uncertain.
The new government has raised the bar for climate and environmental goals with the aim of making Denmark the world leader in the transition to renewable energy. The government's climate plan calls for a significant focus on the use of wind energy and a new agreement goes even further than the 2018 energy agreement, with plans for an offshore energy island with a capacity of at least 10GW.
The signatories to the Energy Agreement recently decided the location of the first of three new offshore wind farms that will be put up for tender. Unlike previous projects in which the government was responsible for developing the offshore site and preparing the grid connection, the new wind farm will be procured through a procedure in which the winning tender will be responsible for developing and preparing the grid connection.
In July 2020 Parliament enacted the Law for the Promotion of Electric Mobility which, among other things, introduced numerous tax and other incentives for the promotion of e-vehicles. Natural and legal persons are entitled to subventions from the purchase price of e-vehicles, depending on certain criteria. The aim of the law is to provide economic incentives to buyers to purchase e-vehicles and promote electric mobility.
In May and July 2020 the Regulatory Authority for Energy approved three five-year development plans for the extension of the natural gas distribution network: the natural gas network development plans for Thessalonica and Thessaly; the rest of Greece; and Attica. In September 2020 the Public Gas Distribution Networks launched two competitive procedures for the construction of networks in the East Macedonia and Thrace region, which attracted significant interest in Greece.
In July 2020 a ministerial decision of the Ministry of Environment and Energy was published in the Official Gazette. The decision encompasses the new transitional flexibility remuneration mechanism (ie, the fee paid to selected electricity providers for the provision of the flexibility service). The mechanism is now in force and will remain so until 31 March 2021 or the date of implementation of the long-term compensation mechanism regarding the electricity system's power sufficiency, whichever occurs sooner.
Following the completion of the Regulatory Energy Agency's (RAE's) recent consultation, the RAE designated 1 November 2020 as the effective date of operation of the intraday and day-ahead markets and the balancing market (electricity markets). Further, the RAE recently issued a series of delegated decisions in order to regulate access to the electricity markets, clearing members' obligations and risk management measures in both the electricity markets and the balancing market.
In May 2020 Law 4685/2020 on the modernisation and simplification of, among other things, renewable energy source (RES) production licensing was enacted. By virtue of Law 4722/2020, the next submission round for new applications for RES producer certificates has been scheduled for December 2020. Meanwhile, the Greek Regulatory Authority has been busy issuing RES producer certificates for which applications have been pending since before the enactment of Law 4685/2020.