The European Union should take steps to stop the waste of solar energy and limit negative pricing in order to encourage investment, according to renewable energy groups.
While Europe will generate record amounts of solar power this summer, coal-dependent countries like Poland and the Czech Republic can switch off solar plants during times of unexpectedly low demand, 17 organizations said in a letter Tuesday to European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
“Due to the reliance on so-called ‘baseload’ and lack of clean system flexibility, highly emitting coal is being burned — and clean, low-cost solar energy is being wasted,” they said.
The EU is looking to boost its reliance on renewable power as it recovers from an historic energy crisis in the fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Parts of the continent are also baking in record summer heat that has caused wildfires and increased drought risk, prompting officials to encourage less usage of fossil fuels.
Although energy prices have plunged to a fraction of their levels at the height of the crisis, volatility is commom in short-term markets where there are huge changes in supply according to the weather. Prices can turn negative when there is more power supply on the grid than needed to meet demand.
“Unaddressed volatility of energy prices, and too frequent negative prices endanger investments” in new solar photovoltaic assets, the groups said, adding that price swings will be the “new normal.”
The groups called for limits on how much solar power can be curtailed, the acceleration of permitting on electric grids and the promotion of hybrid solar projects, among other steps. They also called for steps to deal with negative pricing, including cost sharing by fossil generators.
The EU should “ensure that the economic framework doesn’t give the wrong signal to investors in the transition period,” they said.