Klaus-Dieter Borchardt (EU-Commission), Claas Friedrich Germelmann (Leibnitz University), Birgitta Resvik (Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences) und Guillaume Gillet (InnoEnergy) (f.l.t.r.) at the panel discussion © Magnus Breidn

How does the EU electricity grid remain stable with an increasing share of renewables?

20. February 2018

The EU needs new laws for the changing electricity market. A climate-friendly energy supply can only be achieved with significantly more green electricity. This will only work if the fluctuating electricity load is balanced across the EU. On February 19, 2018, experts from the EU Commission discussed with international experts from science and industry in Brussels how the framework conditions for this would have to be adapted. The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) and the academy project "Energy Systems of the Future" (ESYS) had invited to the seminar.

"Clean Energy for all Europeans" - with this goal the EU Commission presented the so-called Winter Package at the end of 2016. The EU Parliament, the European Council and the Commission are currently negotiating the regulations and directives to emerge from the winter package. One thing is clear: renewable energy sources must be expanded in order to achieve the climate targets. The European electricity system needs new regulations to ensure supply security and grid stability despite fluctuating generation. 

International exchange on regulations for the European electricity market

At the seminar "Policy options for a reliable European electricity system - Perspectives from the EU, Germany and Sweden", experts from Germany, Sweden and Brussels discussed the legal requirements the European Union can use to counter changes in the electricity system. Germany and Sweden were used as examples to illustrate the particular challenges facing the individual Member States. Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, Director of the Internal Energy Market in the Commission's Directorate-General for Energy, stressed in his introductory speech that it is important to fully integrate renewable energy into the market: "We no longer need feed-in tariffs or feed-in priority for wind and PV systems. The plants must be treated in the same way as all other technologies on the market and also provide system services." He sees a central role in the transition to a climate-friendly energy system among consumers. As "prosumers" they would have to be integrated into the market. On the one hand, the large-scale use of smart meters and on the other hand, incentives on the market for flexible load management ("demand response management") are important for this.


Karin Byman from the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) and Cyril Stephanos from the ESYS office illustrated the effects of the energy transition on the power systems and Germany and Sweden in their lectures. Both countries have set themselves very ambitious targets for their electricity supply. However, the conditions are different: While in Sweden nuclear and hydroelectric power plants could ensure a stable basic supply in the long term, electricity in Germany is to come primarily from wind and solar plants in the future. Large reserve capacities may be necessary to ensure supply. How these should be financed on the market, however, is not yet foreseeable. Claas Friedrich Germelmann, Professor at the Institute for International Law at Leibniz Universität Hannover, pointed out in his statement the tension in dealing with national capacity mechanisms: "Capacity mechanisms can take different forms, such as strategic reserves, reserve capacities in the market or load management. The legal challenges in the area of conflict between national capacity mechanisms and the responsibility of the states for supply security on the one hand and the rules of a European internal electricity market and EU state aid law on the other will remain even after the implementation of the Winter Pact."

The experts agreed that the European energy system, with an increasing share of renewable energies, can only be sustainable, secure and affordable through cross-border cooperation. This applies to the legal framework, technologies used and new business models.

Further information