In a recent Financial Times opinion piece by Kadri Simson, the EU Commissioner for Energy, the spotlight is on the urgent need for investment in Europe’s power grids. The Commissioner emphasizes that this investment is not just crucial for energy security and climate goals, but also presents significant employment opportunities.
Investment: The Cornerstone of Energy Transition
The article begins by highlighting the record surge in renewable energy adoption in Europe in 2022. However, Kadry Simson quickly shifts focus to the pressing need for investment in grid infrastructure. Europe requires a staggering €584 billion investment in its grids by 2030 to meet the rising demand for electricity, which is expected to increase by about 60% in the same period.
Employment and Skill Development
Investing in grid infrastructure is not just about cables and lines; it’s also about human capital. The Commissioner points out that Europe is home to the world’s three largest cable manufacturers. Aligning investment in grids with manufacturing capabilities could create a pool of skilled labor, thereby generating jobs and stimulating economic growth. The EU Net Zero Industry Act aims to support this alignment, focusing on cable manufacturing along with other clean technologies.
Financial Mechanisms and Regulatory Reforms
The European Investment Bank has already increased its financing by 50% to mobilize more than €150 billion in new green investments. The EU’s regulatory framework has also been streamlined, reducing the permitting procedure for priority electricity transmission projects to under three and a half years. These financial and regulatory mechanisms can act as powerful enablers, turning potential barriers into opportunities.
Beyond Physical Infrastructure
While the focus is on investment and employment, the Commissioner also notes that solving the grid challenge doesn’t necessarily mean laying more cables. Innovations like flexible storage and demand response solutions can be crucial, pointing to the European Commission’s “digitalisation of energy action plan” as a guide.
The Bigger Picture
The article concludes by stating that Europe faces a fundamental challenge in ensuring its energy independence and meeting its climate goals. Investment in grid infrastructure, coupled with employment opportunities, can be the game-changer that Europe needs right now.
Tomorrow ENTSO-E host the EU High-Level Electricity Grid Forum “under the patronage of” Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson. The event will bring together transmission and distribution system operators (TSOs and DSOs) and stakeholders to discuss how Europe’s electricity grids can support the huge expansion of renewables.
The forum aims to accelerate the development of electricity grids towards a sustainable future by highlighting achievements in EU infrastructure policy, emphasizing investment needs, and accelerating grid deployment.
The Forum will bring together high-level industry leaders, policymakers, and innovators to raise awareness about the crucial role of grids in the energy transition and contribute to ongoing policy discussions.
Source: FT.com & ENTSO-E