France cleared in EC state-aid investigation

FRANCE: The European Commission (EC) has ruled that the new decree establishing France's premium purchase price for onshore wind power is "compatible with EU rules regarding state aid".

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This marks the end of a legal process that threatened to throw the entire industry into disarray, following an appeal by an anti-wind association that the existing decree be annulled on the grounds that the government had not notified the EC.

The case was referred to the European Court of Justice, which last December upheld the appeal.

Since then, the industry has been waiting anxiously for the EC to approve the new decree, submitted last October, before the French administrative courts annulled the old one, leaving the industry in limbo.

Now that it is "legally secure under EU law, the support mechanism for wind energy should, alongside the administrative simplifications taking place, allow a recovery in the rate of installations this year", said renewable energy trade association SER. "But this is dependent on the energy transition law."

A similar EC investigation is under way into Germany's Renewable Energy Act.

In its official response to the formal investigation on 20 January 2014, earlier this month the German government lodged an appeal before the European Court of Justice against the formal opening of an EU state-aid investigation into the country's Renewable Energy Act.

The German government states the renewables act does not constitute state aid, including the controversial relief provided to industry in the form of reduced rates on the renewables levy.

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