In 2001, the Directive on the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market (2001/77/EC, Electricity Directive) came into law, setting an objective of 21% RES contribution to electricity production and laying down specific measures on the evaluation of the origin of the electricity, connection to the grid and administrative measures, to mention but a few. The Directive concerns electricity produced from non-fossil renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydroelectric, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment gas and biogas energies and followed the 1997 White Paper on renewable energy sources, which set a target of 12% of gross inland energy consumption from renewables for the EU-15 by 2010, of which electricity would represent 22.1%.
Under the Electricity Directive, Member States had to adopt and publish, initially no later than 27th October 2002 and then every five years, a report setting the indicative Member State targets for future RES-E consumption for the following ten years and showing what measures were to be taken to meet those targets. Directive 2001/77/EC is repealed by Directive 2009/28/EC (RES Directive) from 1st January 2012.
In terms of access to the grid, the RES Directive stipulates that Member States should develop transmission and distribution grid infrastructure, intelligent networks, storage facilities and the electricity system generally, so as to accommodate the further development of electricity production from renewable energy sources, which includes interconnection between Member States and between Member States and third countries. The RES Directive also encourages Member States to accelerate authorisation procedures for grid infrastructure and to coordinate approval of grid infrastructure with administrative and planning procedures (article 16). Furthermore, Member States are required to grant either priority access or guaranteed access to the grid-system of electricity produced from RES, and also ensure that transmission system operators (TSOs) give priority to generating installations using RES when dispatching electricity. Finally, Member States may also, where relevant, consider extending existing gas network infrastructure to facilitate the integration of gas from RES.
According to the RES Directive, Member States must ensure that the origin of electricity produced from RES can be guaranteed and therefore a “guarantee of origin” must be issued (article 15). A guarantee of origin is, as defined, an electronic document which has the sole function of providing proof to a final customer that a given share or quantity of energy was produced from renewable sources as required by Article 3(6) of Directive 2003/54/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 96/92/EC.