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Green Paper - Towards a secure, sustainable and competitive European energy network

Energy transportation networks in Europe should undergo significant transformations. They should be adapted to the growing needs of an enlarged European Union as well as the climate and energy objectives fixed by the European Commission. In this context, trans-European energy networks require new interconnections as well as diversified funding sources so as to contribute to a more secure and more integrated European energy network.

ACT

Green Paper - Towards a secure, sustainable and competitive European energy network. [COM(2008) 782 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

Through this Green Paper, the Commission launches a public consultation with a view to developing a new strategic approach to energy networks which aims to achieve the climate and energy objectives of the European Union.

Priorities

The main priority is to improve the Community framework with a view to developing the energy networks of the Member States of the Union and to integrate them better so as to enhance the operation of the internal energy market.

Energy transportation networks make up the keystone of energy policy. For this reason the Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E) should correspond to the new requirements of energy policy with regard to sustainability, supply and competitiveness. Adopted in 1996, they should be amended so that they correspond to the objectives set out in the 2007 Energy Policy for Europe.

The external dimension is also a significant issue for the development of energy networks. The internal energy market depends strongly on imports. New import routes will need to be integrated into the network from:

  • Central Asia;
  • the Caspian Sea;
  • the Middle East;
  • Africa.

The coordination and management of the networks will be carried out by the future Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, and by two European Networks of Transmission System Operators. The infrastructure plans will be implemented for a duration of ten years.

There is also an urgent need (in addition to the investments necessary to modernise energy networks and to replace obsolete infrastructures) at European level, for new projects that allow all Member States to be integrated in the internal market and also integrate new technologies. New energy resources must therefore be developed and be accessible across the best interregional connections.

A new approach to energy network development

Energy network development should become a central issue when implementing energy policy.

The 20-20-20 objectives should be implemented effectively through programmes relating to both the public and private sectors. These objectives consist of:

  • the integration of renewable energy sources in the network;
  • the transport of energy from resource-rich areas to consumption centres;
  • the use of technologies for the decentralisation of energy production and intelligent networks;
  • the use of energy coming from offshore wind farms;
  • the development of technologies for the transport and storage of CO2.

European scientific research should direct its work to developing technologies related to energy networks that are able to store and integrate various electricity production sources. The European industrial initiative on electricity grids, for example, forms part of the priorities of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan. The latter targets the promotion of low-carbon energies in particular.

It also appears fundamental to improve the economic and legal framework for cooperation with supplier and transit third countries in order to guarantee stability of supply.

A fully interconnected European energy network

The third ‘internal energy market’ package will enhance cooperation between transmission system operators (TSOs) and the regulators of the energy sector so as to make the internal energy market more operational.

Cooperation is planned between ENTSO (the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity) and the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators in order to optimise existing networks.

The New European Transmission System (NETS) project which integrates gas transmission operators across Central and South Eastern Europe is also a promising initiative and could represent a step towards the establishment of a European transmission system operator.

Putting TEN-E at the service of security and solidarity

The Commission is considering the following options to improve the functioning of TEN-E:

  • determining TEN-E objectives through European energy policy;
  • extending their scope to the full energy transportation network;
  • planning TEN-E so as to reflect market forces;
  • narrowing the focus of intervention of TEN-E to a limited number of strategic projects;
  • developing exchanges of good practices among Member States;
  • specifying a European coordinator for large-scale projects;
  • optimising the management of resources.

The objective will be to update the Community support network, towards a new policy framework for European energy infrastructures equipped with a new instrument for security and energy infrastructures.

Context

At the present time, European energy networks require significant modernisation as well as the development of east-west and north-south connections so as to ensure energy security in the European Union.

17 Consequently, this Green Paper opens a debate on the establishment of a clear and stable legal framework aimed at increasing solidarity and security in the supply of energy in the European Union.

Last updated: 09.04.2009

See also

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