8 December 2015, Brussels – At a hearing to advise on the upcoming Energy Union plans, the European Economic and Social Committee has been told that it must encourage the European Commission to promote a future scenario where renewables are the base energy source, and citizens are active players in the market.
Creating the right market conditions to enable the expansion of renewables is considered essential. To do this “the market should adapt to renewables, not the other way round”, proclaimed Claude Turmes MEP. Reducing subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear, including a revision of the ETS, as well as low-cost financing and priority grid access for renewables were put forward as key drivers for this change.
Market design will at the same time need to carefully consider capacity measures, such as demand response, to ensure security of supply and to maximise the use of clean energy. A fully integrated European network would also help balance supply, but will require significant infrastructure investment in cross-border interconnectors.
A growing share of renewables will fundamentally alter the retail market, it was argued, away from the previous model of large centralised power plants, energy service providers and citizens as passive consumers. The new energy market design should therefore empower citizens, to facilitate the change to a more decentralised, democratised and digitalised system. The regulatory framework, which currently favours the large, incumbent industry players, should be revised to allow and encourage individual and collective engagement. In this scenario citizens would be incentivised to become ‘prosumers’, who can generate, use, store and sell their own renewable energy.
Market design is seen as a key element in the development of a resilient Energy Union, one of the strategic priorities of the Juncker Commission. The package, which promises to make the EU the ‘world leader in renewable energy’, while also delivering a ‘new deal’ for consumers, is expected in 2016.