As most renewable energies are still more expensive than fossil fuels, a variety of support schemes have been put in place to accelarate their uptake and meet the EU's goal of sourcing 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020
Germany's Renewable Energy Sources Act, adopted in 2000, established a model for feed-in tariffs that has inspired the development of support schemes for renewable energy in many countries.
In accordance with a 2001 EU directive on renewable electricity, the European Commission published a report in 2005 assessing the support mechanisms that different member states have deployed for electricity from renewable sources, releasing a follow-up report in 2008.
The EU executive decided against proposing an EU-wide framework for support schemes, arguing that harmonisation would be premature and would disrupt the market.
In January 2007, the Commission published a Renewable Energy Roadmap, calling for a mandatory target to satisfy 20% of Europe's energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. The target was endorsed by EU leaders in March 2007.
The EU-wide 20% target was later translated into individual targets for each member state, laid down in a new Renewables Directive adopted in April 2009. Support schemes remain a national prerogative under the revised directive.
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