Connecting Europe map on a white wall with someone walking in front of it

European collaboration

A National Grid thought piece concludes that GB consumers will benefit through continued cooperation with the European electricity system. European Strategy Analyst Sophie Van Caloen explains why.

Achieving secure, sustainable and affordable electricity for consumers is high on the agenda of the European Commission (EC). Its vision is a single, competitive energy market, with electricity flows that circulate efficiently across European borders.

Last November, the EC introduced a new energy proposal called ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’. It calls for greater European regionalisation and cross-border cooperation within the energy market.

Consumers benefit from the large-scale collaboration that already exists between transmission system operators (SOs). The current system increasingly uses interconnectors to transport electricity around Europe. For example, excess electricity from wind farms in one part of Europe can now be transported to another part of Europe where the wind is not blowing.

At National Grid, we felt it was the right time to develop a ‘Thought piece’ that looks at the changing face of Great Britain’s electricity system, and the development towards European regional markets. In it, we also outline the opportunities and challenges for our consumers.

Four scenarios

We use four hypothetical scenarios called ‘Going it alone’, ‘Collaboration’, ‘Regional centres’, and ‘Pan European’ to explore the different options that Europe could take.

We are sure there is a role for continued British collaboration within the European electricity system, and we demonstrate through these scenarios why we believe a collaborative framework approach will ensure the best outcomes for British as well as European customers.

Matching consumers’ needs

Future European legislation could affect the electricity system in many ways. The interdependencies on electricity trade and common energy projects make a case for continued cooperation going forward.

However, in particular in the context of Brexit, it is essential that Great Britain puts in place the right arrangements, ensuring the best outcome for security of supply, affordable consumer bills, and the ability to meet our low-carbon ambitions.

As the system operator for Great Britain, we are one of 42 organisations from 35 countries across Europe who are members of the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E) and we are involved in discussing how to reach the best market structure across our countries. A key part of our job is to ensure that electricity is produced and transported to all consumers at all times to match their needs.

Maximise the benefits

‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ calls for greater regionalisation and cross-border cooperation within the energy market. We think the implications of greater energy union needs careful study to maximise the benefits to consumers. Each of the four scenarios in our assessment has both benefits and drawbacks. We favour the Collaboration option.

In the end, it’s a decision for policymakers around Europe. National Grid is already shaping the European debate through our participation in European institutions and ENTSO-E. National Grid will work with BEIS, Ofgem and energy stakeholders to reach the best outcomes for consumers.

We encourage and welcome feedback on our thought piece or on any part of the proposed legislation. To get in touch, email: [email protected]