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Noorse steun aan duurzame energie overtreedt concurrentiebepalingen EU (en)

Met dank overgenomen van EUobserver (EUOBSERVER), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 24 mei 2005, 9:58.
Auteur: | By Lisbeth Kirk

Norwegian state funding of environmently friendly energy, such as wind and solar power, may be in breach of EU competition rules.

The Brussels-based EFTA Surveillance Authority has launched investigations into Norwegian public funding of wind- and sun-based energy production and of projects to reduce energy consumption, reports Norwegian daily Nationen.

The EU allows public support of renewable energy production if it is more expensive to produce than using fossil fuels, but the support is only allowed up to the price level of traditional energy forms.

But Norway is suspected of funding environmently friendly technology to an excessive degree and creating unfair competition for other energy sources such as coal, oil and gas.

"The idea is that alternative energy should compete on equal footing with traditional energy", the EEA's head of information, Tor Arne Solberg-Johansen, told Nationen.

Support for investments is allowed, but not continued support, he explained.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority ensures that Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway respect their obligations towards the EU under the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement). The agreement offers access to the internal market in return for respecting EU regulations.

Carbon emissions scheme limit funding margins

Frederic Hauge from the Environmental Foundation Bellona is generally enthusiastic about the EU's environment policies, but said the Norwegian move was negative and that the European Commission and the EEA should be made to see the light.

"This is a result of the EU being built on coal and steel. It is not good", Mr Hauge said, pointing out that the EU's emissions trading scheme could make things even worse.

"The quota policy brings up prices for electricity based on coal. Then the difference between coal-produced electricity and wind power is narrowed and the margin for support of the clean energy is reduced", he added.

Carbon emissions prices have peaked recently.

According the FT Europe, emission quotas traded at 19 euro per tonne this week, up 170 per cent since the EU scheme started in January.

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