Auditors criticise use of EU renewables funds

  Some renewable energy projects given EU funds have not spent them cost-effectively and in a number of cases the money may simply have replaced national funds, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

  It says better objectives and evaluation systems should be put in place for the next round of cohesion funding. Member states should also set cost-effectiveness criteria and ensure predictable regulatory regimes and smoother grid integration procedures.

  Verified data on energy output is only available for 13 of 24 EU-backed projects assessed by the ECA and of those only five met their original targets. Another three were close to their targets.

  There were issues with some of the projects’ procurement processes and the chosen technology were not always assessed against other types of renewables.

  Several of the projects cost much more than similar schemes in the same country. One Polish wind farm, for instance, cost almost twice as much per megawatt hour than the national average, and an Austrian biomass project almost 50% more.

  In Malta, Poland and the UK, European funds had helped leverage other finance or improved the quality of projects but in Austria and Finland they had simply been fed into the existing national support system for green energy.

  However all 24 projects were successfully completed without major cost or funding overruns, the ECA pointed out.

  In all, the EU allocated €4.7bn in EU cohesion policy funds to renewables for 2008-13. Funding will be higher for the 2014-20 period.

  In its response to the ECA, the European Commission said the output of renewables projects varies from year to year and that cohesion policies are intended to deliver a range of benefits, not just cost-effective delivery of the EU’s renewables target.

 Excerpted from ENDS Europe DAILY