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Whether it relates to electricity prices answerable to customers, the adding of filigree availability beyond borders, or the EU’s law-making action itself, the adventure for accuracy has emerged as a cross-cutting affair in Europe’s advancing ability bazaar reform.

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Florent Marcellesi is a Spanish Affiliate of the European Parliament for the Greens political faction. As one of Assembly’s rapporteurs on the proposed afterlight of Europe’s electricity market, he sits in alleged ‘trilogue’ talks area negotiators from the European Commission, Parliament and Council get calm abaft bankrupt doors to bang out compromises on EU legislation.

As such, he should be able-bodied a about the positions of the 28 EU countries. Yet, he says he badly lacks information.

“We don’t apperceive the position of the affiliate states,” Marcellesi told a EURACTIV accident aftermost week, calling on EU countries to position themselves added acutely on issues such as the Ability First principle, which prioritises activity accumulation over production.

“I’m actual ytical about that because we don’t know,” Marcellesi said at the event, organised with the abutment of the French manual arrangement operator, RTE, and the French electricity barter association, UFE.

EU assembly accept been attractive into a proposed ameliorate of the EU’s electricity bazaar back November 2016, back the European Commission tabled its ‘Clean Activity for All Europeans’ amalgamation of laws, advised to addition renewables and activity efficiency.

One of the best acknowledged aspects of the ameliorate is an attack by the European Commission to abbreviate “capacity mechanisms” – or civic aid schemes that accord ability plants for actual on stand-by in case of appeal peak, about during winter.

Detractors of accommodation mechanisms altercate they are bald accompaniment aid for bedraggled deposit fuels that should be alone as anon as accessible while supporters affirmation they accommodate basic back in the alteration to renewable electricity. The actuality that both are actual is abrogation Europe in a quandary.

The Commission’s antitrust administration austere several of those schemes beforehand this year, grudgingly accepting that they may be all-important as a aftermost resort advantage in adjustment to accumulate the lights on.

The abhorrence in Brussels is that accommodation mechanisms could be acclimated as backdoor to subsidise communicable deposit fuels like coal. So it absitively to appoint an emissions achievement accepted on acceptable plants. That has affronted Poland which relies heavily on coal. But added countries like France accept additionally stepped advanced in defence of accommodation mechanisms, although for altered reasons.

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At the affection of the altercation lies a axiological breach over the role accommodation mechanisms can comedy in the activity transition, said Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, Director for the Internal Activity Bazaar at the European Commission’s activity department.

On the one hand, there are those like France who see accommodation mechanisms as a commutual antecedent of accounts to allure abiding investments and ensure aegis of supply, he said at the EURACTIV event. While the added access sees accommodation mechanisms as “an apparatus of aftermost resort” to abode categorical aegis of accumulation issues “if the energy-only bazaar fails to deliver”.

“It’s no abstruse that the Commission defends [the latter],” Borchardt said.

The abridgement of accuracy about how the money is spent is apparently one of the affidavit why the Commission angle accommodation mechanisms with such suspicion.

A contempo ysis by Greenpeace appropriate that governments beyond Europe accept already spent €32.6 billion in assorted accommodation schemes back 1998. A added €25.7 billion of allotment has been lined up until 2040.

However, the exact abstracts aren’t clear. Back EURACTIV asked the Commission to affirm the Greenpeace investigation, it said harmonised statistics weren’t available.

20 gigawatt Russian Roulette

In fact, statistics say altered things about how abundant “capacity” is bare to ample abeyant accumulation gaps in ability generation. And the abridgement of commensurable abstracts fuels divergences in acknowledgment about whether accommodation mechanisms are appropriate at all.

“We had a bearings in which the French capability appraisal appear problems” with accumulation security, said Colas Chabanne, a arch official at RTE, the French manual arrangement operator, who batten at the EURACTIV event.

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“A actual simple way to explain it is what I alarm the 20 gigawatt Russian Roulette,” the French official said. In 2012, there was a actual algid winter in France with a aiguille amount extensive 102 gigawatts. Two years later, the winter was abundant warmer, with a aiguille amount at 82 gigawatts.

“That’s a 20 gigawatt aberration in acceding of aiguille load,” Chabanne acicular out. “And of advance you accept that to accumulation those 20 gigawatts of demand, you allegation assets – bearing or demand-response – which were not acclimated at all during year 2014.

“So there is a big accident for investors to put money in assets, which some years will not be acclimated at all, aloof because of the weather,” he said. The accommodation bazaar in France addresses that accident by accouterment a added abiding beck of acquirement to owners of ability plants or demand-response accommodation – alike back they are not in use.

Conflicting or commutual assessments?

But while civic bodies like RTE do their own assessments, their abstracts can appear in battle with a Europe-wide capability forecast, performed by the European affiliation of manual arrangement operators (ENTSO-E).

“In the European capability assessment, we additionally had problems but to a bottom extent,” Chabanne admitted, adage this led the European Commission to yze about “the bendability amid those results” afore giving its blooming ablaze to the French accommodation mechanism.

In fact, the civic and European assessments can acknowledge altered things, Chabanne explained, adage the alterity amid the two is not necessarily an issue. “They are not to be opposed. If you appetite a able-bodied assessment, you allegation to accost credibility of views” in adjustment to adjudge whether accessible action is appropriate to ensure accumulation security, he argued.

Asked whether the European or civic capability appraisal should abound in case of conflict, Chabanne replied: “I accept [the European Commission’s] DG Antagonism did absolutely a acceptable job in that attention for the French accommodation market.”

Capacity mechanisms are acute to defended the affairs of ability plants that ensure France’s aegis of electricity supply. They are additionally capital to allure investments in new all-important accommodation by accouterment afterimage to the bazaar acknowledgment to a abiding amount signal, writes Virginie Schwarz.

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The European Commission does not altercation this, accepting that the European and civic capability assessments are complementary.

“But what we accept today is that it relies about alone on a civic assessment,” said Christof Schoser, a arch official at the Commission’s antagonism advisers in allegation of accompaniment aid controls in the activity sector.

“The European appraisal is still actual abundant under-developed,” Schoser stressed, adage ENTSO-E has “tried” but bootless to advance a absolute European assessment. At worse, “the abstracts may artlessly not be available,” Schoser acicular out, calling for some harmonisation in the way filigree acceptance is affected beyond the EU in adjustment to accomplish commensurable data.

“We allegation to accomplish a big footfall appear a European assessment,” the EU official insisted, adage this will ultimately additionally account civic authorities and TSOs who “don’t absolutely apperceive what’s accident beyond the bound because they use altered methodologies” to account filigree availability.

Getting appropriate and reliable abstracts on filigree acceptance has in actuality become a antecedence in the electricity bazaar reform.

According to the European Agency for the Cooperation of Activity Regulators (ACER), cross-border electricity basement is currently acclimated at alone about 30-35% of capacity.

“And that’s a scandal,” said Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, the arch Commission official. The capital reason, he said, is that TSOs are still attractive at accommodation chiefly anatomy a civic perspective. “Even worse,” he continued, “structural bottleneck in one affiliate accompaniment is pushed to the bound and makes it absurd to use cross-border capacities for cross-border trade.”

The Commission has proposed acclamation the affair of cross-border filigree availability as allotment of its electricity bazaar reform. “And we accept to affected this in one way or another,” Borchardt insisted, adage it is the alone way of authoritative abiding accommodation mechanisms are acclimated as a aftermost resort advantage to abode bazaar failures.

Marcellesi, the Spanish MEP, agrees that a pan-European access is badly bare on capability assessments. But the discussions in trilogue accept not yet affected on this acute topic, he said, with affiliate states befitting their cards aing to their .

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“I don’t alike apperceive the position of my country. I asked my minister, the abiding representation of my country, and they don’t acquaint me,” Marcellesi said. What the Spanish MEP does assert on is that all capability assessments in Europe – whether at civic or EU akin – are “fully transparent” and based on commensurable abstracts and methodologies.

Mostly out of pragmatism, the European Commission has adopted a rather advanced access to “capacity mechanisms” – civic schemes that accord back ability plants – accepting that EU countries face altered challenges in the activity transition.

Demand acknowledgment

Transparency – and abstracts exchanges – is additionally all-important to administer the filigree in real-time. With growing shares of electricity advancing from decentralised sources like wind and solar, and the accepted billow in electric vehicles, the allegation for real-time abstracts flows is acceptable capital to accumulate the filigree abiding – and abstain blackouts.

Demand-side administration technologies – generally branded “negawatts” because they accredit consumers to get paid for switching off their accessories – plays a axial allotment in accouterment this affectionate of flexibility, Borchardt said.

But demand-response won’t appear if activity companies don’t allegation “dynamic prices” to their customers, he warned, suggesting accuracy there was bare too. “Here, we are not yet on the aforementioned folio because there is still some reluctance” to accomplish activating appraisement an obligation beyond the EU, Borchardt said.

Worse, he said some EU countries accept insisted that activity suppliers accord their above-mentioned accord afore applying activating prices to their clients, admonishing that the Commission was “very bright and firm” in abnegation this proposal. Enabling demand-response is a key cold of the EU’s electricity bazaar ameliorate and “a everyman accepted denominator band-aid won’t do,” the official stressed.

The Commission’s attitude on demand-response is “fully shared” in Paris, replied Pierre Jeremie, arch of electricity markets at the French anatomy ministry. “If we accept a binding acceding by the supplier, we will not accept demand-response,” he concurred.

As a amount of fact, demand-response technology is one of the arch beneficiaries of the French accommodation mechanism, and one of its perceived strengths amid apple-pie activity advocates.

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In France, 50% of the revenues for demand-response are supplied by the accommodation market, Chabanne acicular out, with “only 10%” advancing from the activity bazaar or added accompanying services. And it is payable in euros per megawatts, not in euros per megawatt-hour, which agency “it can additionally prove absolutely difficult to advance demand-response after a accommodation market,” Chabanne argued.

“Capacity has value,” Chabanne summarised, adage the added broker aplomb provided by the French arrangement had translated into cheaper electricity bills for consumers and an added all-embracing “social welfare” evaluated at €400 actor per year.

But it additionally takes time: in France, it took six years to put a accommodation bazaar in place, Chabanne said, calling on EU legislators to abstain creating alternation by mandating a approved ysis of absolute accommodation markets. “We cannot ysis it every year because contrarily we run the accident of not accepting it back we allegation it,” he warned.

The European Commission wants to absolute accompaniment aid for ability plants that EU countries accord to abide on stand-by in case of appeal peak. As negotiations on the EU’s new electricity bazaar access the home straight, EURACTIV lists the capital issues to watch out for in the debate.

Ultimately, it will be up to EU legislators to counterbalance the costs and allowances of accommodation mechanisms as allotment of the added ameliorate of electricity markets.

And Marcellesi appropriate that accuracy could able-bodied be a deal-breaker for the European Parliament back entering the aftermost alternation of trilogue talks, which are accepted to achieve in November or December.

“What we’ve asked at the European Parliament is to accept abounding accuracy on the bill,” the Spanish MEP said. “Do you apperceive area your money is going? In my country, I don’t apperceive at all. I apperceive how abundant money goes to renewables. But I don’t apperceive how abundant money goes to coal, gas, or nuclear.

“We’ve fabricated some proposals and discussed about that in trilogue already, but I don’t see any acceptable animosity from the Council and the Commission on that point. And we will abide to put burden on that, because as citizens and as consumers, we allegation to apperceive area our money is going.”

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