Conclusions | Accelerating the Energy Transition: Moving towards a Coordinated Approach

September 2021

Summary

Thank you for joining us on the 21st of September for our fifth webinar in the series Accelerating the Energy Transition. This episode focused on the Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) and its intention to modernise Europe’s cross border energy infrastructure to support a climate-neutral economy based on carbon-free energy.

Former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox introduced and moderated the session, which consisted of a few opening remarks from each of the speakers followed by a 30 minute panel discussion.

Swedish MEP Erik Bergkvist (S&D) discussed the recent negotiations leading up to the committee vote (ITRE) on 27 September, forming the European Parliament’s initial position on the European Commission’s proposal for revising the TEN-E regulation. He outlined how the Parliament has now reached a broad agreement prior to the upcoming vote, and it is roughly in line with the European Commission’s recommendations. No date has yet been set for a Plenary vote in Parliament and delays in arriving at a trialogue agreement are highly likely. The Council reached agreement on its General Approach before the summer.

The complexity of the issue of who will design and regulate a cross border offshore or onshore grid was discussed by the entire panel. The need for there to be an entity with a ‘helicopter view’ of a European cross border grid, both offshore and onshore was roughly agreed upon, though the specific nature of what this might look like was still unclear.

ACER, the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, will likely be strengthened which will help in the short term, but there was no consensus on how an efficient, cost effective pan-European grid would be designed, built and operated in the long run. Dimitrios Chaniotis of ENTSO-E expressed concerns over changing the current governance system too much, as the disruption may cause more harm than good.

John Fitzgerald, CEO of SuperNode Ltd and member of the currENT Board of Directors, emphasised the importance of reducing the green premiums of the overall system. This is the price differential between a carbon based product or service and its carbon free alternative (this can be negative as well as positive). Innovation plays a pivotal role in reducing green premiums and so innovation must be supported and nurtured so as to contribute to the significant investment into grid infrastructure that will be needed. It would be a shame to throw away all the cost advantages renewable energy technologies have achieved on inefficient and unsuitable electricity infrastructure. As Raphael Sauter of the European Commission’s DG Energy pointed out, to meet Europe’s 2050 offshore targets of 300 GW, two thirds of the investment will need to go to grid infrastructure, while only one third will go to generation.

Pat Cox closed the session highlighting a few key areas of note. He stressed the importance of collaboration between the EU and non-EU members, most notably the UK and Norway and also pointed to the need for an unprecedented level of examination and analysis of the holistic nature of the challenges ahead.

The webinar provided a broad spectrum of perspectives on the TEN-E process, producing some fascinating insights into a key vehicle to the energy transition.

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Our Panel of Experts

Pat Cox, Former President of the European Parliament

Raphael Sauter, DG ENER

Erik Bergkvist, Member of the European Parliament (S&D)

Dimitrios Chaniotis, Senior advisor RTE & Vice Chair of System Development Committee ENTSO-E

John Fitzgerald, Board member CurrENT, CEO SuperNode

 

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