Welcoming speech by Dr. Hendrik Vygen, head of department “Climate protection and Renewable Energies, International Cooperation”

Estimados Señoras y Señores,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to warmly welcome you to the Second Workshop of the International Feed-In Cooperation. Welcome also to the city of Berlin. I am delighted to see that you have all made your way here today and I hope you’ll have some time to enjoy Berlin and support the Berlin economy. Much has happened since the last workshop, both directly and indirectly concerning the Feed-In Cooperation:

1. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into force on February 16th this year, after Russia had ratified it. Last week, the first Meeting of the Parties was held in Montréal, Canada, formally adopting the Marrakech accords. The reduction targets of greenhouse gas emissions are mandatory and operational. Furthermore, the conference in Montreal gave a clear signal that new ambitious reduction commitments for industrialized countries are to be developed for the post 2012 period and broad dialogue under the convention has been initiated. Hence policies and techniques to achieve present and future targets, such as renewable energies and successful feed-in regulations, become even more important.

2. On November 7th and 8th, China hosted the second international conference for renewable energies in Beijing, giving fresh impetus to the promotion of renewable energies and triggering even more investments into renewable energies on a global scale. In China, we started the discussion on how to review actions of the International Action Programme of Bonn and all other actions to realise the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The first review should take place at the meeting of the Commission for Sustainable Development in New York next year, with the aim to decide on a review mechanism in 2007.

3. A few days ago, the European Commission published the report according to Article 4 of the Directive on renewable energy sources in the electricity sector. Herein, the Commission places an emphasis on a further cooperation between different EU Member States and their support systems. Already earlier this year, Commissioner Andris Piebalgs had announced that it would be too early for a harmonization of the support schemes but that, on the other hand, a cooperation like the Feed-In Cooperation would help Member States benefit from potential cost savings. With the final Communication, the entire Commission makes clear that, firstly, feed-in systems are not only effective but also economically efficient. And that secondly, there should not be any harmonisation of the different instruments for the time being. We are happy to have here today a representative of the Directorate-General Energy and Transport of the European Commission, Ms Beatriz Yordi, who, in a few minutes, will tell us more about the Communication.

4. In September, elections were held in Germany and, as a result, the government changed. A new coalition was formed between the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), the Christian Social Party (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).The coalition contract made it clear that the very successful German feed-in system will be kept as the main support scheme for renewable energies in the electricity sector. Hence the success of the German Renewable Energy Sources Act, the EEG, can continue. As given in the act itself, the Government is to present a progress report in 2007, which will be a basis for a possible amendment of the EEG. In principle however, I am sure the act will be maintained. Also after 2007. The international exchange of experience will give us important additional hints, whether and in which areas the German feed-in regulation could be further optimised. Some more EU Member States decided to introduce a feed-in system, such as Ireland – as the new main support scheme – and Italy – for the Photovoltaic sector.

6. Last but not least, Ladies and Gentlemen, on October 6th, the Joint Declaration of the Feed-In Cooperation between Spain and Germany was signed in Madrid, giving a basis to the Cooperation that had already successfully started some months earlier with the Madrid Workshop in January. Taking all these positive events into account, we can say that we are on the right track. Much remains to be done, however, and that is why we have met today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Experience shows, that some countries have been very successful in promoting renewable energies, whereas others are still struggling. This might have several reasons. However, the more successful countries are mainly using feed-in systems. But it is not only the feed-in system that is responsible for success. A stable political, economical, technical and administrative framework and environment is of utmost importance as well. This workshop will look at some of theses issues. Amongst others, Spain and Germany can serve as good examples. Germany increased the share of renewable energies in the electricity sector from less than 5% in 1998 to more that 10% today. We are confident that we will meet our indicative target set by the European Commission, which lies at 12.5%. Furthermore, we set ourselves the target of at least 20% in 2020. From our experience we know, that we can meet also this target. Also Spain is highly successful in the field of renewable energy. Last year, more new MW windmill capacity was installed in Spain than in Germany. I could continue praising the success of Spain in this field, but I leave this to my Spanish colleague, who will welcome you in a few minutes, and to Ms Blanco.

In the years that have passed since the European Directive on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market was issued in 2001, different instruments to reach the indicative targets given in the Directive were used in the EU Member States. The feed-in system has proven to be a very effective as well as efficient means for the promotion of renewable energies in the electricity sector. Clearly more than half of the EU Member States use feed-in systems. That is one reason why Spain and Germany decided to cooperate on its further development as well as its promotion. A second reason is that we all know that we can still become better. Since technical development in the field of renewable energy is so fast, the political instruments also need to be adapted from time to time to hold with the development.

The Feed-In Cooperation is a forward-looking initiative aiming at a further improvement and development of the feed-in systems and providing assistance for countries wishing to improve their feed-in system and for countries wishing to establish and implement a similar system. Many of you have been at the workshop of the research and development project on “Monitoring and evaluation of policy instruments to support renewable electricity in EU Member States”. There, we have learned that using a feed-in system is, particularly concerning minimized costs for the consumer, a very efficient instrument. But we also learned that costs can be significantly reduced if we further optimize our feed-in systems. In the longer term, we should also consider coordinating policies in a cluster of some European Union Member States in order to reduce costs. However, this workshop might help us find new ways to first of all improve our national systems in the field of economic efficiency.

We are determined to increase the share of renewable energies in our national primary energy supply, and especially in the electricity sector. Ensuring that the increase of the use of renewable energies in the electricity sector actually takes place as given in the EU Directive is another very important goal of the Feed-In Cooperation and this workshop. We are willing to contribute to making the feed-in system even more effective. And finally, we want to promote the feed-in system in Europe and worldwide by demonstrating its advantages and identifying best practice.

An effective support system alone might not be sufficient, however. We must also consider other framework conditions such as administrative procedures or the extension of the electricity grid – which in many cases is not adapted to carrying large amounts of wind power. These issues will also be discussed here today and tomorrow.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We’ve come together to continue working on the success story of feed-in systems. The exchange of experience has become of vital importance in an increasingly interconnected world. We need to learn from each other. The Feed-In Cooperation does not need to be limited on the technical information exchange as scheduled in the four sessions today and tomorrow. At the same time, it can be very fruitful to get to know people and experts from other countries responsible for the field of renewable energies in ministries, authorities and other institutions. There will be possibilities to make closer contacts in the coffee breaks, at dinner and lunch and probably at a drink in the evening. I hope that you will have the time to use this chance even if the agenda is very rich.

Last, but not least, I would like to stress that the Feed-In Cooperation is open for other countries to join in. At this point in time, Spain and Germany are members of the cooperation. Until now, these two countries have organised the workshops, set the agenda and prepared papers of the cooperation. But other countries might want to stress other issues that should be discussed. Therefore I would like to invite you to consider becoming member of the cooperation. I think that this would be very valuable for the Feed-In Cooperation, the experience exchange in Europe and the future development of feed-in regulations in Europe.

I want to thank you again for coming and I wish you a fruitful discussion.