Top European utilities push again for carbon price

A group of utilities that together own over 50 per cent of all power generation capacity in Europe have collectively called for carbon pricing to the main driver in combating climate change within the bloc.

The European utilities group, called the Magritte Initiative, includes E.ON and RWE, Enel, Engie and Iberdrola.
"We call on political leaders to design an appropriate framework to make low-carbon investment happen," Engie Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet told a news conference on Tuesday.

The group wants the European Commission to strengthen its emissions trading scheme to boost carbon prices and help drive investment in low-carbon power. They believe that this system rather than targets for increasing renewable energy use would garner better results while ensuring energy security is maintained.

Reuters reports that while the Magritte group companies operate more than 81 GW of renewables capacity, their gas-fired power plants and nuclear stations have suffered as a flood of subsidized solar and wind has created overcapacity and priced their traditional generation assets out of the market.

The group has called for an end to subsidies for mature renewable energies and wants the EU to boost its carbon emissions scheme, whose low prices have failed to boost low-carbon fuels like natural gas and nuclear.

E.ON chief Johannes Teyssen said the group wants prudent schemes that do not oversubsidize and make sure the lights stay on. "Our message was wrongly interpreted by people who said 'these are the old guys, they must have a hidden agenda'," he said.

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