The Big Chill: why the Energy Union is on hold [premium content]

European Parliament Brussels (photo Xabier Zaldua)

Terrorist attacks and  the spectre of Brexit have cast a shadow over Brussels, including the great Energy Union project. But there are deeper reasons why the Energy Union, one of the top priorities of the European Commission, is running into serious difficulties. Power markets are still overwhelmingly determined by national policies and member states resist EU-wide initiatives in many crucial energy policy areas, writes Sonja van Renssen.  … [Read more...]

ETS reform: how will it affect CO2 price? [PREMIUM CONTENT]

EPW6-2-cement factory photo Astrid Westvang

The MEP in charge of reforming the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) has finally revealed his thinking. MEP Ian Duncan’s proposals open the door to more ambitious emissions cuts in the wake of the Paris climate deal and beef up a new Innovation Fund. But his most significant suggestion is a “tiered” approach to carbon leakage, which would give some industries more free allowances than others. So what does it all mean for the carbon price? … [Read more...]

The fight over the EU’s nuclear ambitions – and what it means for European energy research

oel nuclear power station Belgium (photo IAEA)

A leaked “strategy paper” in the German media has thrown  up fresh questions over what Europe intends to spend its innovation budget on. In the paper the European Commission and member states set out broad goals for the nuclear industry, including developing small modular reactors. Nuclear opponents reacted furiously. In her new Brussels Insider column, for the Energy Post Weekly premium newsletter, Sonja van Renssen investigates the fight over … [Read more...]

Capacity mechanisms: DG Competition and DG Energy clash over future of EU energy market

Margrethe Vestager presents sector inquiry electricity capacity mechanisms (photo Europe by Satellite)

EU member states are setting up capacity mechanisms that may be unnecessary, expensive and badly designed. This is the conclusion of the European Commission's Competition Directorate in the interim report of its first ever “sector enquiry” into capacity mechanisms as a form of state aid for electricity producers. But the report shows that DG Competition has a different view than DG Energy about the future of the EU's energy market design, writes … [Read more...]

EU expects large nuclear new-build programme despite escalating costs

Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, Finland (photo Foro Nuclear)

The European Commission estimates that nearly three quarters of a trillion Euros will need to be spent on nuclear power over the next decades to enable it to maintain a market share of about one-fifth of the EU electricity mix in 2050. At the same time it notes that the cost of building new nuclear plants has risen 50% in the last decade. Critics say the Commission is too optimistic and has not analysed what the advent of renewables and changing … [Read more...]

Europe’s energy investment crisis: “the EU energy market needs a makeover”

photo Europe by Satellite

Europe’s electricity market, which has some of the highest renewable energy shares in the world, is suffering from a profound investment crisis. Sonja van Renssen spoke with top experts from government, business and academia about the causes and possible solutions. Conclusion: “tinkering around the edges” won’t do - “a complete makeover” of Europe’s market design is needed. Courtesy of World Energy Focus. … [Read more...]

Biofuels are back on the EU agenda

Rapeseed (Credit: Phil and Pam Gradwell, via Flickr)

Biofuels are returning to the political agenda in Europe as EU policymakers start to shape a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport after 2020. Biofuels producers continue to argue that they are an essential part of the solution, even as the low oil price puts an end to several cutting-edge projects, the European Commission prepares to publish a new report about indirect land-use change (ILUC) and some stakeholders urge a … [Read more...]