- Diederik Peereboom, Director General, T&D Europe
- Andreas Luxa, Vice-President and Chair of the WG Investments, T&D Europe
- Lawrence Slade, CEO, Global Infrastructure Investors Association
- Juan Rios, Director General Global Planification and Regulation of Distribution Grids, IBERDROLA
- Veli-Pekka Saajo, Chair CEER DS WG
- Catharina Sikow-Magny, Director Internal Energy Market, European Commission
- Benoit Esnault, Head of Department, Interconnections and European Affairs Department, CRE
The European electricity network needs re-investment in the installed base (replacing ageing equipment) to ensure its continued reliable functioning. It also needs investment in making the network smarter, more flexible and digital. Are current levels of ongoing and planned investments sufficient?
The European Green Deal requires a Flagship Initiative for Energy Infrastructure; an ambitious, pragmatic and effective approach that will help deliver a demonstrable positive impact on the life of all Europeans. This session focuses on concrete proposals that support the modernisation and future proofing of Europe’s electricity networks.
The European Green Deal must look at how we produce, transport, distribute and use energy. Electricity networks are the backbone of Europe’s energy system. Electricity has become an essential and critical resource of the daily life of Europeans. A temporary or prolonged disruption in our electricity supply touches virtually every part of our society and economy. Without electricity, everyday life is severely disrupted, creating massive impacts on essential services such as transportation, water and food supply, communications, security and health services. Given its criticality, the EU has designated electricity generation and transmission as European critical infrastructure.
As we move on from traditional energy systems, new, smarter solutions will be required to manage the changing generation mix, whilst maintaining affordability and ensuring security of supply. This means that not only the generation sector has to undergo a fundamental transformation, but that we also need to future-proof the European transmission and distribution network and improve its resilience by ensuring the quality of service and the continuity of supply under different circumstances. Digitalisation is one of the key enablers for a successful energy transition towards a carbon emission-free energy supply. Data sharing, accompanied with a robust, effective and agile cybersecurity approach, is one of the key prerequisites to make Europe’s energy system ready for the decarbonised future.
Such a future-proof network will rely on three key factors: policy, technology and investments. The European Green Deal can help make tangible progress by focusing on three pillars: 1. Delivering on ambitious climate and energy objectives, 2. Promoting European technology independence and leadership, and 3. Unlocking investments in Europe’s electricity networks.
In December 2018, the Commission published its 8 scenarios for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The scenarios include average annual investments in the power grid of EUR 80 billion to EUR 110 billion between 2031 and 2050.
Grid investments are for the long-term and should therefore be considered as such. Rather than focusing on short-term ROI parameters, it should consider the cost of an electricity network that is not future-proof.
The push for clean energy depends on sustainable investment from both the public and private sector. The commitment of strategy for green financing and a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan would support EUR 1 trillion of investment over the next decade. The European Green Deal can give the necessary impetus by including concrete plans for unlocking the necessary investments and deploying the innovation into the network.
Europe needs a modern, affordable and digital energy system if it wishes to become the world’s first carbon-neutral continent. The electricity grid infrastructure is at the center of the energy system. We need therefore to ensure that it is future-proof: robust, smart and ready to adapt to new business models and green solutions. It is in the common European interest to make it happen.
A Flagship Initiative for Energy Infrastructure under the European Green Deal is an ambitious, pragmatic and effective approach that will help deliver a demonstrable positive impact on the life of all Europeans.