Electricity grid companies reassure: further expansion of renewable energy is feasible

Yesterday, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) organised a high-level dinner debate on the “Clean Energy for all Europeans” package at the European Parliament. MEPs José Blanco López, Krišjānis Kariņš and Claude Turmes, the rapporteurs on the European Commission’s legislative proposals for renewables, market design and governance contributed as well as representatives from Transmission System Operators (TSOs), NGOs and industry associations. Participants discussed the implications of these proposals for the successful integration of an increasing share of renewables in the electrical system.

 

All participants agreed that the ongoing cooperation between grid operators, civil society and politics was needed for the implementation of the proposed policies and a timely energy transition. Grid operators were confident on their ability to integrate higher shares of renewables without lowering the level of energy security. Furthermore, they underlined that public engagement was key to winning support for grid development projects across borders and within member states, which are needed for the integration of RES.

Antonella Battaglini, Chief Executive Officer of the Renewables Grid Initiative, who facilitated the discussion, stressed the importance of planning ambitiously for the future and of spelling out the relevant role of TSOs in integrating increasing shares of RES in the European electricity system: already today, TSOs can manage a large amount of variable RES while safeguarding security of supply. Every day, they gain new experience and deliver innovative solutions. With the support of civil society they are leaders of the energy transition. We are calling for a smart and stable regulatory framework, which recognises the need to better involve stakeholders in energy choices at all levels, European, national and local to allow for more flexibility and the timely delivery of the energy system of tomorrow.  

Santiago Marín, Director System Development at Red Eléctrica de España (REE), highlighted that: “Transmission system operators can accommodate an increased share of renewable energy sources in the networks grids through investing, and securing electricity supply in a well-functioning, cooperative and interconnected internal electricity market. At home, Red Eléctrica has shown how to successfully do so by integrating clean energy sources in the energy markets in an active way by applying central monitoring and control of decentralised generation from variable energy sources”  

Speaking on behalf of ENTSO-E, Vice-Chair of the Board Fintan Slye stressed the importance of an open dialogue and cooperation: “Never has it been so critical for transmission system operators across Europe to take a key role in combatting climate change. At ENTSO-E we are pushing the boundaries to ensure our member networks lead the fight against climate change and contribute to meeting the COP21 agreement. The integration of higher levels of renewable energy onto our integrated power systems can only come through greater cooperation of all stakeholders on a local and European level.  We will continue to drive innovation in market design, digitally enabled grids and social acceptance. Our determination to tackle climate change must be underpinned by stronger regional regulatory and political cooperation of Member States as we become one of the world’s largest interconnected power markets”.

Wendel Trio, CAN Europe Director echoed this comment by saying: “Today’s event is yet another proof that major stakeholders from across Europe are ready and willing to work together on scaling up the development of renewable energy in the European Union. Together with grid operators, CAN Europe believes that Europe is bound to increase investments in renewable production and transmission capacity”.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy at Bird Life, added: “We can tackle the climate emergency hand in hand with tackling biodiversity loss, if we progress the energy transition strategically and with respect for wildlife. The recast Renewable Energy Directive and new Governance Regulation provide a crucial opportunity for Europe to choose a truly sustainable pathway that would help speed up integration of renewable energy.

Finally, all participants recognised the need to support innovative solutions for a more flexible market design, a level playing field and a better coordination to ensure a high level of security of supply in a context of an increasing share of renewables. It has also been agreed that a stable and predictable regulatory framework is needed to plan the proper infrastructure and system developments for a further steady growth of renewables and the energy transition. 

Theresa Schneider
Senior Project Manager

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