Legal Perspectives on Bottom-up Approaches
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Marjan Peeters and Thomas Schomerus
Chapter 3: Trade law constraints to regional renewable energy support schemes
Commonly “small” is considered to be beautiful. But if a policy tool that promotes rather small concepts for renewable energies on a regional level is to be successful and sustainable in the long run, it is crucial to throw light on the applicable legal principles governing the particular situation. So, the more one is advocating – for good reasons – local energy solutions, the more attention one should pay to their legal limits when it comes to the actual design of the concrete policy tool. In this respect one important limit might be the trade law principle of non-discrimination as enshrined in the legal framework of the EU and the WTO. Among the wide set of instruments supporting renewable energy regionally, two are especially sensitive in terms of discriminatory effects and therefore of particular interest: (1) public procurement policies which only permit green energy of a certain local origin and (2) so called local-content provisions which make, for example, the grant of a feed-in tariff conditional on the domestic or regional manufacturing of the power plant. The first instrument – a procurement policy supporting locally generated green energy – mostly raises questions pertaining to EU law. Additionally, the significance of the corresponding WTO rules will also be outlined briefly in this chapter. The second instrument – local-content provisions – will be analyzed not only with regard to WTO rules as the main field for their legal classification, but also in a brief manner with regard to EU law.
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