The big news of the night came from Michael Köhler, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Oettinger in the European Commission. He announced that in the first half of 2012 the Commission will release two communications affecting the whole electricity sector. The first will be about further supporting renewables and the issue of different support schemes in different EU member states. The second, intriguingly, will be about market integration, but Köhler refused to comment further on the issue when questioned.
But he indicated that the market integration communication was a response to the very large number of infringement proceedings against many EU member states for lack of progress on implementing EU law on liberalisation of electricity markets, relating not only to the latest legislation but also to previous liberalization laws.
The other speakers at the debate represented a wide range of interests from the energy infrastructure field, including regulators, TSO’s and business. Eddie O’Çonnor, CEO of Mainstream Renewable Power and a leading light in European Wind Energy Association, was asked about public acceptance of wind farm plants. He described all planning as “local”, and mused about the consequences of opposition to projects in countries around the world – delays have stretched over a decade in some instances. O’Connor believes that burying DC cables underground is the way forward for bringing wind power to central Europe, as building the amount of infrastructure required for transporting renewable electricity will not be possible if we use overhead power lines.
The consensus of the evening was that a fully functioning grid is vital for Europe. Michael Köhler said “There will be much more trade in electricity, intra-Europe, cross border. With a massive increase in renewables, you need to be able to phase in gas, hydro, etc”…..“To operate that, you need a grid. It simply makes good sense to have more cross-border electricity, and therefore a grid”.
Tom Rowe, blog.ewea.org/