While all EU countries have domestic renewable energy resources to exploit, some areas of Europe have a greater potential for renewables than others. For instance, some countries may have more rivers suitable for hydroelectric power, while others may have more yearly sunshine better suitable for solar.
The creation of Europe's internal energy market creates great opportunities for countries to work together to exploit these renewable resources and meet their 2020 renewable energy targets. They can do this through the cooperation mechanisms set up under the Renewable Energy Directive:
- statistical transfers
- joint projects
- joint support schemes
In a statistical transfer, an amount of renewable energy is deducted from one country's progress towards its target and added to another's. This is an accounting procedure and no actual energy changes hands.
By allowing transfers of this kind, this cooperation mechanism provides EU countries with an added incentive to exceed their targets because they can receive a payment for energy transferred to others. It also allows countries with less cost-effective renewable energy sources to achieve their targets at a lower cost.
Two or more EU countries can co-fund a renewable energy project in electricity or heating and cooling, and share the resulting renewable energy for the purpose of meeting their targets. These projects can but do not have to involve the physical transfer of energy from one country to another.
EU countries may also enter into joint projects with non-EU countries. The resultant energy will count towards national targets if the project involves:
- electricity generation
- the physical flows of energy into the EU (to ensure that the project has a real effect on the amount of renewable energy consumed in the EU)
Joint support schemes
Two or more EU countries can co-fund a joint support scheme to spur renewable energy production in one or both of their territories. This form of cooperation can involve measures such as a common feed-in tariff, a common feed-in premium, or a common quota and certificate trading regime.