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European court upholds renewable energy price support law in victory for German wind industry

March 23, 2001à‚–The German ‘feed-in’ law, or price support system for electricity from renewable energy sources, is not state aid, according to a recent decision by the European Court of Justice.

In its ruling on a case brought by PreussenElecktra against the German state of Schleswag, the Court also stated that the feed-in law is in compliance with internal market rules, as it is intended to help achieve environmental objectives which are a priority for the European Community.

Purchase obligations with guaranteed feed-in tariffs or premiums have proved the most successful means to date of stimulating and sustaining the development of wind energy markets, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). It is important that countries within the European Union should be allowed to apply the support systems that are best adapted to national circumstances for the promotion of renewable energy use, EWEA said.

This decision opens the door for member states to implement similar schemes without challenge under European state aid and market rules. Along with the recently published Commission guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection, the ruling provides a clear framework for the development of national renewable energy support policies.

“This decision puts wind back into the sails of renewable energy developments across Europe,” said EWEA President Klaus Rave.