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Brussels in brief, WW200904

EWEA recommends stronger power grid for more wind power

16.04.2009

The EU needs rapidly to begin planning and constructing an onshore and offshore power grid, while ensuring improved competition in the internal electricity market. These were two of the key points submitted to the European Commission by EWEA in its response to the consultation on the Green Paper entitled “Towards a Secure, Sustainable and Competitive European Energy Network”.

The new and reinforced grid must be capable of transporting substantial amounts of onshore and offshore wind power to consumers across Europe. It should be developed via a suitably financed “EU Energy Security and Infrastructure Instrument”, which would replace the current Trans-European Energy Networks programme (T EN-E) with its limited budget.

Improved competition in the power market – currently dominated by vertically-integrated power companies - will enable a level playing field for renewables and so lead to more affordable electricity for consumers in the long term. Electricity generation and transmission activities must be completely separated to ensure effective competition.

Another necessity for the electricity market is a market design as close to real time as possible with shorter gate closure times and functioning intra-day markets. This would enable system operators to forecast more accurately how much power will come from the wind and other sources just a few hours ahead, rather than a day ahead as is currently the case. Making this change will lead to savings in systems costs in the range of €1-2 billion per year.

More savings would be made by reinforcing interconnectors at areas of congestion. EWEA recommends that t he EU build a network development master plan that outlines long-term priority investments. The recent report from the TradeWind project (www.trade-wind.eu) lists priority interconnection projects.

EWEA also suggests that additional R&D funding tools for new energy network technologies be put in place. EU instruments such as structural funds and cohesion funds could be used jointly with well established EU R&D funding tools such as the FP7. Key areas where further research is needed are grid planning and operation, wind power plant capabilities and energy and power management.

In a second response to a public consultation, this time from the European Regulators' Group for electricity and gas (ERGEG) on the group’s Guidelines of Good Practice on Electricity Balancing Market Integration, EWEA cited the inadequate integration of balancing markets as one of the main barriers to a single European electricity market. By drawing on cross-border markets, transmission system operators (TSOs) would be able to achieve a more diverse energy mix, cheaper resources for balancing control, a lower need for power supply reserves and increased efficiency. To this end, EWEA recommends a system in which neighbouring TSOs directly exchange balancing services via a common merit order, which would allow them to activate the cheapest available resource for balancing purposes. Once again, it is crucial to make gate closure times as close to real time as possible in order to accommodate variable energy sources such as wind in the most cost efficient way.

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