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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Vice-President Šefčovič at the Citizens' Energy Forum

Dublin, 21 September 2018

Closing Speech by Vice-President Šefčovič, in charge of Energy Union, at the Citizens' Energy Forum, in Dublin.

 

I am very pleased to be able to join you here in Dublin as the Citizens' Energy Forum is about to conclude, for the 10th time.

You have had intensive discussions and I have been listening with great interest to your findings. Thank you Klaus-Dieter for this interesting wrap-up.

You have notably focused on what is important and needed for the energy retail market to better serve consumers.

Indeed we need concrete solutions to ensure not only more competitiveness, but also fairness, and consumer engagement.

My colleague Miguel Arias Cañete yesterday described the new energy landscape – where we stand on the low carbon transition, with our ambitious yet realistic energy and climate targets.

Let me recall in one sentence some of the dynamic changes that are shaping our system: the share of renewables and decentralised generation have been growing rapidly, calling for more flexibility in the energy market; the progressive increase in energy-efficiency along the entire energy value chain - and, finally, the emergence of new market roles and actors with "prosumers" as active participants.

These mega-trends are what I describe schematically as the 6 "D"s … for: Decarbonisation – Decentralisation – Democratisation – innovative Disruption – Digitisation and Diversification (of both production and end-uses).

And all these 6 "D"s all have the consumers at their centre-stage.

With the Clean Energy for all Europeans package we want to see consumers, and prosumers, take full advantage and ownership of the energy transition.

In fact, it will be the most advanced set of legislation for energy consumers ever to be established in the EU, possibly even the most advanced of any major economy.

We are therefore putting in place rules to democratise and decentralise the production, storage, transport and use of energy.

Rules to ensure that consumers have the right to store, sell and generate electricity themselves, to give them access to new products such as dynamic price contracts and demand response – and new actors such as energy communities – while making it easier for consumers to compare and switch offers and to understand their energy bills.

These measures are complemented by the New Deal for Consumers package to make sure that our consumer protection rules are modern and keep pace with market developments, especially the digital economy and new business models.

It is clear that consumers already play a new role in the energy system - the energy chain is no longer a one-way street with traditional suppliers at one end, and passive consumers at the receiving end. In a more decentralised energy system consumers not only need to be protected. They actually contribute to making the system work.

Peer-to-peer energy trading is emerging and residential demand response needs are areas where the energy markets will develop greatly in the coming years, with technology playing a key role in enabling these solutions at low cost.]

The number of those who want to enter energy markets as generators of energy – the prosumers, is growing. The integration of prosumers electricity into the market and their transparent and fair participation needs to be supported by appropriate market rules that truly empower the consumers to act.

Grass-root and citizens initiatives, for example energy communities are important to increase the uptake of the renewable energy and to achieve the energy transition by directly involving the citizens as owners and benefactors of renewable energy. So democratisation goes hand in hand with decarbonisation.

It is important to encourage these developments in Europe, in order to make sure that citizens feel rewarded by their participation in the transition.

Technological changes and digitalisation are already key attributes of today's energy market and are crucial in driving shifts in energy related behaviour. They also create new value and open new opportunities for both business and consumers.

This brings me to my next point: Reshaping the energy reality for consumers cannot happen without the involvement of the business sector, including front-runners: innovative and consumer-oriented companies that enable engagement in the energy market through new services and products.

Disruptive innovation and new business models do not come from scratch.

To push these we need to work better with innovators and private investors. This is what we are doing for instance by partnering with Bill Gates and his Breakthrough Energy Coalition of major investors, to attract patient capital into our world class, disruptive, citizen-driven, clean energy innovative, solutions.

At the same time, we must ensure that consumers understand and embrace those changes. They have to be both well protected and informed to confidently navigate through this new market reality and make the most out it.

This year, we have launched the EU Energy Poverty Observatory, to better grasp and tackle the challenge of energy poverty. Our objective is to ultimately ensure that all citizens have adequate living conditions, including heating, insulation and powering.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us not forget that transforming the energy system for consumers requires joint efforts, engagement and citizens' focus at all levels – EU, national, regional and local.

That is why we are working through dedicated initiatives (European and Global Covenant of Mayors) with cities - representing the level of administration closest to citizens'; and focus on specific needs of Coal Regions in Transition and EU Islands.

Let me conclude on Ireland and Europe.

First, Ireland is very much at the forefront of the clean energy transition, with its competitive and interconnected energy markets, renewables integration, and a deep-rooted focus on innovative / disruptive technologies and entrepreneurial spirit.

Second, this Forum has been making important contributions to our understanding of consumers' views, and needs. Without it we would not have been able to propose relevant adaptation of the European regulatory framework. I am therefore very happy that it took place this year in Ireland – to showcase the important contribution of your country to our European project - and our uncompromised determination in return to support Ireland, as a key member of the European Union, in the challenges it is facing.

We still have some work to do, of course. So, I am pleased to be able to take your conclusions with me, especially at the moment when the Commission is gathering inputs for the mid-century strategy.

It is a key moment to discuss not only our reduction of emissions of course, but also the modernisation of the European economy and how to foster societal acceptance for and ownership of the clean energy transition.

I would like to thank all of your decisive contribution to this debate.

SPEECH/18/5862

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