EU policies to integrate energy markets, promote renewable energy, and diversify supply are aiming at a competitive and sustainable European power sector. The resulting dynamics should largely affect the systems of electricity generation, transportation and storage in Europe: With increasing market integration come new new competitors; coal and gas power plants face new renewable challengers domestically and abroad; and diversification towards new suppliers will bring new trade routes and infrastructure. All in all, EU policies to integrate power markets, promote renewables, and diversify supply will thus profoundly reshuffle national energy assets. The impact of the three EU policies is thus likely to have considerable ‘geopolitical’ implications for individual member states and affect their capability to negotiate, agree on, and/or implement further measures. We conduct a thought experiment which explores potential benefits and losses for individual member states implicit to Europe’s ‘energy transition’, and the political concerns which may be expected to arise as a consequence. Continue reading »
Eight years ago, shortly after German and Russian leaders agreed on the construction of Nord Stream, then Polish defence minister Radoslaw Sikorski called it “the Molotov-Ribbentrop pipeline”. Sikorski compared the project to the 1939 pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which partitioned East-Central Europe. Nord Stream, he argued, would allow Germany to secure its gas imports from Russia while Moscow simultaneously turned off the tap and blackmailed governments in East-Central Europe. However, contrary to Sikorski’s predictions, during the current crisis in Ukraine the pipeline has allowed Germany to take a tougher stance towards Russia than most EU member states. Continue reading »
European power markets are being confronted with an unprecedented transition process toward a low-carbon power system. The speed and complexity of this shift are raising serious challenges and operational difficulties. The successful increase in the deployment of variable renewable electricity technologies is bringing the EU objective of raising the share of these technologies in its energy mix to 20% by 2020 closer to an attainable reality. But there are deep concerns about the continuing impacts of this transition, especially as it is further expanded to include a substantially larger share of renewables by 2050.