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Editorials
These are the responsibility of the editor and convey the newspaper's view on current affairs-both domestic and international

Promoting renewable energy

The authorities must revise proposed legislation that discourages home solar power

The European Union has established a set of objectives in energy policy with the aim of reducing European dependence on fossil fuels, most of them imported from other parts of the world. The reasons have to do with Europe's economic, political, technological and environmental dependence, and take the form of the so-called 20-20-20 formula for the year 2020, centered on "de-carbonizing" the energy supply to the countries of the Union.

Together with a much-needed stimulus to the growing presence of renewable energies in the repertory of commercial energy sources, special emphasis is laid on energy saving (necessary for compliance with one of the "twenty" objectives), and on home power and distributed generation. Hence the fact that many countries have enacted regulations providing for the various modalities of home generation of energy in individual installations, and for "distributed generation," that is, occasional flows of electricity, in both directions as needed, between these installations and the power grid.

A few days ago the Industry, Energy and Tourism Ministry submitted to the National Energy Commission a non-binding report on the matter, the text of a proposed law on home power generation. But an examination of the text suggests that, rather than a norm to regulate and stimulate distributed generation, we are looking at a calculated attempt to hinder its spread, by means of rates that go beyond what is reasonable — these being estimated at 27 percent of those associated with conventional uses of the grid — and a refusal to consider the net-balance arrangements that exist in several European countries: that is, the possibility of discharging excess home-generated power into the grid to later recover it, or an equivalent monetary value, when required.

The widely-admitted need to correct certain mistakes made in the past in the area of regulation of renewable energies — particularly the conditions and the excessively generous premiums paid for their generation — cannot now serve as a pretext for the destruction of a new industrial sector that has created employment, which is naturally oriented to export, which diminishes our radical energy dependence, and might make us world leaders in certain technologies, as may be occurring even now.

There is even less reason to discourage the spread of a practice — that of home power generation and exchanges of electricity with the grid — that helps to comply with the EU objectives, and which shares many of the advantages enumerated above, particularly the fostering of a new industrial sector and its associated employment.

It is obvious that a spread of home power generation would be prejudicial, though not greatly so, to the revenues of the major power companies. It is unthinkable that this vested interest might be the reason behind a legislative proposal so clearly restrictive of home power generation given that the general interest, and the development of our electrical system along the lines implicit in the EU objectives, must be the determining considerations when it comes to new legislation affecting this area.

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