POLICY BRIEF #1: Potential Obstacles to the Use of Cooperation Mechanisms for CSP in the Future

POLICY BRIEF #1: Potential Obstacles to the Use of Cooperation Mechanisms for CSP in the Future

The first MUSTEC policy brief on the Potential Obstacles to the Use of Cooperation Mechanisms for CSP in the Future is available now.

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Renewable energy cooperation is expected to play an important role as a way to ensure an effective and affordable low-carbon energy transition in the EU, taking advantage of trade within the internal market, safeguarding security of energy supply, coordinating climate adaptation measures and optimizing the cost-effectiveness of actions (Caldés et al 2018). It is for these reasons that Europe wants to promote a cooperative RES deployment where the resources are most abundant, where the overall system costs would be minimized (e.g., reduced need for backup, avoided grid investments, etc) or where overall social benefits would be maximized (e.g. increased security of supply, GHG savings, avoided local air pollution, employment effects, innovation effects, etc) (European Commission 2018).


In order to provide MS with more flexibility and achieve the EU RES target in a more cost effective way, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) set the legal framework for the use of cooperation mechanisms. While the Directive specified the general accounting rules of these mechanisms, their design and implementation was left to the cooperating MS (Caldés and Díaz-Vázquez 2018). As described in articles 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 of the Directive 28/2009/EC, MS could, depending on their needs and priorities, choose from the four possible cooperation mechanisms (Caldés et al 2018, 2019).


However, despite several expected benefits of those mechanisms, barriers of heterogeneous nature have prevented a wide use of the cooperation mechanisms among MS, as demonstrated by their limited use since 2009 (see Caldés et al 2018 for further details). One of the renewable energy technologies which may benefit from the use of the cooperation mechanisms is concentrated solar power (CSP). Compared to intermittent RETs, CSP has a main distinguishing feature: it can be equipped with low-cost thermal energy storage, which allows it to provide dispatchable renewable power. Generation can thus be shifted to times when the sun is not shining or to maximizing generation at peak demand times. It can then be a cost effective, flexible option in different places, especially with increasing shares of variable renewable electricity (Mehos et al. 2015; IRENA and REN21 2018). However, there are several drivers and barriers to the deployment of this technology, which were analysed in task 4.2 of the MUSTEC project (see del Río and Kiefer 2018 for details).


Therefore, taking into account this background, and integrating the aforementioned two issues, a relevant research question is then: what are the most relevant drivers and barriers to the use of the cooperation mechanisms specifically for CSP?


Only a few contributions in the past have paid attention to the use of the cooperation mechanisms for CSP. For example and as part of the research conducted within the EU funded project BETTER (Bringing Europe and Third countries together through renewable energies), Lilliestam et al (2016) analyzed the reasons for the absence of renewable electricity (and in particular CSP) imports to the European Union using the so-called “cooperation mechanism with third countries” or Article 9 of the RED 28/2009/EC. For this purpose, the authors developed a multi-level heuristic framework that covered three sequential acceptance levels: political attractiveness (macro-level), the “business case” (micro-level) and civil society perspectives (public discourse level). Later on, under the auspices of the Smart Specialization platform, Caldés and Díaz-Vázquez (2018) have presented the value proposition of crossborder solar electricity trade in Europe. Next, a pre-feasibility assessment of a first of a kind (FOAK) CSP plant in Extremadura (Spain) was conducted in order to demonstrate the possibility to combine EU financing support mechanisms and the cooperation mechanisms of the RES Directive.


Report D4.4 of the MUSTEC project (del Río et al 2018), which is summarized in this document, provides an integrated analytical framework to identify the drivers and barriers to the use of cooperation mechanisms for CSP deployment, empirically identifies those drivers and barriers to the use of those mechanisms in the future with the help of a literature review and ranks those drivers and barriers according to the views of different types of stakeholders.