At the Europacable annual general meeting in Paris last week I raised the astounding fact that after 24 years of a single European market in goods, services, people and capital, we still do not have the fifth freedom: the free of movement of electricity. We urgently need to establish this. Europe’s current supply structure still bears the characteristics of the fossil-fuel powered time in which it was developed. It is national in nature, the technologies applied are ageing and the markets supporting it are underdeveloped.
Modern electricity infrastructure is the pre-condition to this fifth freedom and one in which Europacable plays a vital role. Over the next 12 years, Europe must use the opportunity created by the large turnover in capacity to construct a new, modern power system capable of meeting the energy and climate challenges of the 21st century. We need interconnected grids that create corridors of trade in electricity in Europe that will bring down prices for consumers.
We also need to introduce a smarter management of the electricity sector adjusting the rules and regulations on the supply side to meet the needs of wind energy. This must include shorter gate closure times so that the providers of wind energy can give two hours notice instead of two days notice of the amount of power they will supply. New rules must reflect the fact that for the last two years the majority of new electricity capacity installed was wind.
On the demand side we must move towards a more intelligent pricing of electricity giving consumers better price signals so that non-essential electricity consumption can be moved to times of lower demand.
The European cable industry and the European wind industry are both world leaders; they have this strong point in common. We can work together to create a European policy agenda that favours a better electricity infrastructure, bringing more and more wind power online and driving down prices for consumers.