Business Lift

Advisory in Energy, Innovation and Business

ENTSO-E published its roadmap for 2023-5 on 15th Feb 2024. This has good and bad points. For one thing, a 3-year horizon, especially when published one-third of the way through, is not strategic; it’s short-term objectives. But those objectives are mostly good.

Especially positive is its identification of the need to re-visit the market design, development and operation: it’s currently unfit for purpose, and can be evolved to become fit for purpose, as I have outlined elsewhere. The difference between the two will be over €10 trillion in overall costs by 2050, and enable private finance to do a much greater proportion. It will also increase the system’s reliability and resilience.

Infrastructure and investments do indeed need increasing, though this still retains its over-reliance on interconnectors which are guaranteed to fail in times of system stress such as the “kalte Dunkelflaute” and similar weather patterns of narrower geography and shorter durations: how can any country rely on imports to keep the lights on, when their neighbours have no surplus to export? And what are the cost and resource requirement of the multi-terawatt grid lines that would have to cross Europe in all directions? Again, I have outlined ways to minimise these costs while improving the grid’s reliability and resilience.

Energy systems flexibility, and all other “smart” energy developments, are excellent but only optimise what is there: there needs to be enough energy available, within accessible storage capabilities, before it can be optimised.

Grid operability is considered location by location, and with System and Network operation separated by statute. Running an affordable, reliable and resilient grid will require re-integration of this planning and control, as each part greatly affects the next. For example, a System Operator can procure balancing services local to a problem; alternatively, if the distant renewables were made dispatchable, then the problem would vanish, but the Network Operator would have to ensure that the benefits can travel. To make that intermittent generation dispatchable would require the benefits to Network construction to be shared with the developer, together with long-duration System Operation contracts covering its capabilities. And to make this truly green and profitable without subsidy would need a higher carbon price, which is currently less than one-fifth of the societal cost of carbon. Again, I have outlined solutions elsewhere.

Including deployment of solutions in the innovation scope is really positive.