The priority dispatch system operating in Europe is being considered for reform, according to leaked documents.

If such a scenario prevailed it could mean wind farms and solar power could lose the privilege of getting priority over other energy sources on European electricity grids.

The Guardian reports that the move could increase carbon emissions by up to 10 per cent, according to a confidential EU impact assessment seen by the Guardian. But the document goes on to model four scenarios for doing just that, in a bid to make Europe’s energy generators more flexible and cost-competitive.
Oliver Joy
The system forms part of the overall renewable energy directive, which is being redrafted for the post-2020 period.

Oliver Joy (right), a spokesman for the WindEurope trade association, said: “Removing priority dispatch for renewable energies would be detrimental to the wind sector, which would face more curtailment across the continent. It also seems to be at odds with Europe’s plans to decarbonise and increase renewables penetration over the next decade.”

“Investors took priority dispatch into account when projecting revenues in the original investment decisions, and it could have a bearing on existing projects if they are not protected from the change.”

Senior industry sources say they will push for financial compensation and access to balancing markets to help prevent a significant industry contraction, if priority dispatch is ended.

Fossil fuel power providers argue that renewables have the lowest operating costs and so would anyway receive priority access to the grid network.

They also say that taking the clean energy sector out of priority dispatch would prevent “negative prices” – where more energy is produced than can be sold – and eliminate anti-competitive subsidies.

The fear is that the new system would most affect renewables as they would be first in line to be switched off.