The study of five EU regulatory regimes for electricity TSOs (Belgium, Germany, Great-Britain, France and the Netherlands) suggests that their designs encompass strong tensions and trade-offs and that they are significantly heterogeneous. However, this heterogeneity should no longer be valid, as the European Union is pushing more than ever to prompt for wider integration and increasing interactions between power networks and power systems. In any regional EU market, the economic properties of national regulatory regimes must consequently be realigned and harmonized as to deliver more EU common good. Continue reading »
The European power sector is challenged by a series of developments. These range from planned changes to the institutional environment and the functioning of the market, to unforeseen external shocks like the decline of demand as a result of the economic and financial crisis and the German decision to completely phase out nuclear energy after all. The challenges also include the unexpected results of foreseeable developments, such as the impact of renewable energy sources (RES) on business models terms of profit margins and system requirements.
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France has entered into a national debate about its energy transition to meet its long range target to reduce CO2 emissions by 75 per cent by 2050, while maintaining security of supply and the competitiveness of French industry. It is a muddled debate, because the trigger for it is an electoral commitment by President François Hollande to reduce the nuclear share in the country’s electricity mix from over 70 per cent today to around 50 per cent by 2025, a commitment that few people in France – and maybe not even the president himself – regard as sensible or feasible to carry out to the letter. Indeed the origin of the commitment is almost an accident of electoral politics. And the national debate has done little to clarify the issue. Continue reading »
At first glance, the integration of the internal electricity market seems to be on track. However, when taking a closer look it is clear that without an extra effort, much of the work done over the last decade may be at risk.
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Germans, as everyone knows, are an efficient lot. Once they put their mind to it, they deliver results. For some time, Germany has been on the path of increasing its reliance on renewables – the marching order was further fortified when Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to immediately shut down half of the country’s operating reactors following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and hastily phase out the remaining ones by 2022.
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The UK is currently reforming its electricity sector. This gives rise to some pertinent questions: Do the reforms go far enough and can more reforms be expected in the near future?
That is among the questions being asked not just in the US but nearly in any country where self-generation, in one form or another, already is or is likely to become cost-effective. It is also a key question in the context of the net energy metering (NEM) debate in the US or generous feed-in-tariffs (FiTs) that are being scaled back in the EU and Australia.
The loss of competitiveness because of elevated energy costs is concentrated in a limited number of sectors. The cost of subsidising energy-intensive companies might be greater than the benefits. Continue reading »
Unlike Germany, France has not decided to phase out nuclear power. But it plans to close the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, in Alsace, ahead of schedule. It has also made a commitment to reduce this technology’s share in its future energy mix. Underpinning these decisions we find the same factors as in Germany: a party built around combating nuclear power; a more acute perception of nuclear risk in the aftermath of the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster; electoral competition; and political alliances which make allowance for risks as perceived by the general public, not as calculated by experts. Just as in Germany we shall see that decisions on targets and the exit schedule have been based mainly on approximation, without paying much attention to economic factors. Continue reading »