Test Header

Unveiling the Electricity Highways Project Results: “Europe’s Future Secure and Sustainable Electricity Infrastructure”

Date: 03/11/2015 -  

​​On this page:

E-Highway2050 Results

Download the e-Highway2050-booklet

Conference Photos

View Photos from the Conference

Conference Presentations

E-Highway2050 conference – Highlights of Day 1

All parties from European Commission to distributors, from regulators to renewable generators, concluded the first day of the E-Highway2050 by jointly saying that the near to complete decarbonisation of Europe’s economy will not be possible without new investments in transmission grids.

ENTSO-E is committed to leverage the E-Highway2050 findings to improve its 10-year network development plan (TYNDP). Both Jean Verseille and Sébastien Lepy, respectively Board Member and Chair of ENTSO-E’s system development committee, insisted on the fact that ENTSO-E will work with E-Highways in the future on methodologies and scenario buildings. Sébastien Lepy noted that lessons could be learned from the E-Highway2050 project to better explain the importance and added value of grid projects in the TYNDP.

How to gain public support for more infrastructure was one of the key questions at the heart of Day 1 of the conference. Up to now, 50% of the projects labeled by the European Commission as Projects of Common Interest are delayed due to public resistance. How to change this situation? Is it through more undergrounding? More solutions closer to the consumers? Greater transparency? More macroeconomic argumentation? Or rather stronger and sustained stakeholder and public engagement and co-ownership?

For several panelists the more the EU electricity markets are interconnected, the greater the competition, the greater the chances of lowering prices in high priced areas.

Gérald Sanchis, E-Highway2050 Project Coordinator, RTE, summarised the conclusions of the E-Highway2050. One is that no new layer of grid isneeded to support Europe’s decarbonisation was fully acknowledged by the Commission. The EC also clarified that its 15% interconnection target would be balanced with regional specificities and identified bottlenecks — leading to a higher or lower targets on some borders.

Another strong conclusion of the day was that the current grid planning — incremental by nature — was not only reinforced as far as 2030 is concerned. But even that more smart planning, coupled with innovation, new technologies, linking up of distribution and transmission, will be needed by 2050 for Europe to reach its climate objective.

All scenarios tested by the E-Highway show a set of no-regret options in terms of future grid infrastructure. Even in a decentralised energy system, transmission enhancement will be needed. “Renewable decentralised generation can be compared to scattered rainfalls that in the end build up into a large river for which you need large infrastructure”, pointed out Sébastien Lepy.

Responding to the fact that there are other solutions to envisage than to build additional grids, he insisted that transmission system operators’ core responsibility is to reply to EU citizens’ request for a steady and reliable supply of electric power, whatever the circumstances behind the switch. Building new infrastructure is the last resort when all other options fall short, he said.

In her opening statement, EC Director General Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency, Marie Donnelly, insisted that the EU power system was no longer supply but service driven. That consumers needed to be at the heart of the system and be provided the information to control their consumption. She talked about removing the artificial barrier between distribution and transmission. That if investment in transmission added to hundreds of billions, twice the amount would be needed in distribution. She talked about a modern and robust grid where renewables will no longer be curtailed.

Session II

Sebastian Lepy, RTE

Sebastian Lepy, Chairman of ENTSO-E System Development Committee, highlighted that the concrete outcomes of the-Highway2050 project could most certainly improve ENTSO-E´s TYNDP work in the future. While ENTSO-E is still discussing exactly how to use lessons from the e-Highway 2050 project in the TYNDP process, the following list illustrates the areas that ENTSO-E is considering:

  1. Methodologies to consider top down scenarios, including stakeholder involvement
  2. Gathering expertise in the development of wind and solar power to complement the expertise of ENTSO-E
  3. Whether using some of the e-Highway 2050 models, notably the 100 node model, to refocus the work of TYNDP could help make a quicker, more efficient turnaround of the necessary analysis. This will require a more detailed description of the e-Highway models.

As well as content, the TYNDP process could learn from the look of the final e-Highway2050 project booklet, which provides an accessible summary of complicated analysis of scenarios for network planning.

Gerhard Seyrling, T&D Europe

Gerhard Seyrling, President of T&D Europe, stressed that the e-Highway2050 is an outstanding project illustrating the importance of electrical grids in and for Europe. Europe needs a strong grid, which the T&D industry is willing to deliver. The industry is committed to bring cost reduction through innovation, technical knowhow to assist regulatory bodies, and R&D to overcome the technical challenges identified by the scenarios of the report. In short, the T&D industry is ready to prepare all technical solutions for the futures explored in the e-Highway 2050 project.

Raul Gil, Europacable

Raul Gil, Chairman of the Europacable Utilities Board, noted that today, we describe 2050 as “long term” planning – but it is actually a much shorter time horizon than we believe. He gave the example of the France Spain interconnector (INELFE), which took 30 years to plan and 4 years to build. The main barrier delaying implementation of new transmission links is public opposition. Underground cables are a technical solution to address this barrier. Mr. Gil questioned how we can create a sense of urgency in the public and political debates that by not building Europe´s power lines, we are preventing the reduction of CO2 emissions in Europe? Like T&D Europe, Europacable are global technology leaders in their fields and ready to deliver Europe´s transmission highways. All the industry needs is stability of the regulations, clarity on the targets, and a legal framework that does not provide barriers.

Kristian Ruby, EWEA

Kristian Ruby, Chief Policy Officer at EWEA, takes 3 main messages from the e-Highway2050 project. Firstly, investments in grid infrastructure must come with a business case that makes sense for society. Social acceptance can be reached, for instance, by systematically including citizens in the planning process or in ad hoc public meetings and in building-up co-ownership. Secondly, benefits from the necessary upgrades to the European energy infrastructure (€14-55bn) clearly outweigh their costs (€10-20bn). Thus, the investments needed to deliver an energy infrastructure for a decarbonised Europe are achievable, particularly in context of annual spending of €400bn on fossil fuel imports. Finally, what the TSOs and the Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) are doing today is fully consistent with what we need to deliver a grid infrastructure in our future. He also called for the need to address the challenges of social acceptance, strong governance, and robust permitting procedures.

Gian Carlo Scarsi, EURELECTRIC

Gian Carlo Scarsi, head of unit for DSO, EURELECTRIC highlighted the need to balance the need for grid investment with development of market-based solutions. The question is not only about whether we want to go for more transmission grid but also the extent to which we need to go for different solutions as there is no single solution because technologies are competing amongst each other –e.g. development of the distribution networks or market-based mechanisms. Some expansion of the transmission grid may be unavoidable, but we may not need it everywhere. What is most important however is to look at what the customers want. We should let the customers choose: at the end of the day the customers need to be made aware about what goes on their bills, and where any cost increases come from.

Hannes Seidl, dena

Hannes Seidl, Head of Division Energy Systems and Energy Services of German Energy Agency (dena), mentioned that there is a need to connect the potential of renewable energy throughout Member States. He also stated that it will be difficult to integrate RES in the electricity system which cannot be done without the increase of energy efficiency in Europe. On the other hand, grid expansion for RES integration is very important for various flexibility options that must take into account network development plans. He highlighted that we are talking about the evolution of the transmission grid and not the revolution, which should help with the highlighted challenges of public acceptance. However, grid expansion will face various challenges. One of the main remaining questions is how to balance the national perspectives of member states with the objectives of the Energy Union objectives, in particular to how best to ensure fair allocation of costs across Europe

Christophe Gence-Creux, ACER

Christophe Gence-Creux, Head of ACER’s Electricity Department mentioned that there are two broad consensuses in regards to the results of the project. First, there is a common agreement that we need more transmission infrastructure but the critical issue is how much do we need, when and where. Second, there is an overall concern about the lack of public acceptance which cannot be solved with regulatory solutions or policy initiatives like the PCIs. As a solution, he proposed more transparency and a better communication regarding the added-value of the investment. He raised concerns that loop flows resulting from internal congestion mean that tradable cross-border capacity is only around half of the physical capacity between European markets. These issues need to be solved in order to gain public trust, as well as providing market-based incentives for investment in cross-border transmission. He concluded that ACER is fully committed to address all these issues.

Panel discussions

The moderator Sonja van Renssen summarised the main highlights of the session.

We need more transmission grids but it is important to consider which network options do we need to build and where. The development of the analysis supporting the investment is an important issue but even more important is the way in which investments needs are communicated and presented. This could also help to avoid public acceptances issues usually associated with the building of new transmission lines. The technology options are available and there is no single solution to grid development. Total costs of €400bn are surmountable, and are similar to the annual spend on imported fossil fuels in Europe. Regarding policy, if we take a European approach then we would need a CBA.

Another issue is that the existing cross-border capacity is not fully utilised to link markets, with only half of the existing capacity currently being available to the market. The role of the TSO is not only to build new grids but to make sure the lights are kept on. Therefore, the discussions also covered the role of flexibility options in future grids, including demand side and storage solutions. As a final conclusion, all panellists agreed that nevertheless the customer will be the one that decides what technology options are implemented.

e-Highway2050 - Press Release Day 1

E-Highway2050 conference – Highlights of Day 2

Session III

Thomas Anderski, Amprion

Thomas presented the results of the work package on grid development for long term planning. The key objective of this work was to define energy scenarios and grid structures that reach EU climate targets in 2050. The starting grid in 2030 was based on the 2014 Ten-Year Network Development Plan.

The five e-Highways2050 scenarios used for the grid analysis were selected to cover a full range of the main drivers: demand, renewables, exchanges, fossil fuel with CCS, nuclear. For each scenario, the grid analysis identified the main transmission requirements between 95 clusters in Europe. The complete transmission grid architecture for each scenario was designed to optimise the trade-off between grid capex costs and system operation costs.

The key result of the modelling is that corridors are needed in all of the scenarios to allow use of renewables in most profitable areas, and use smoothing effects in weather-driven renewables. Many common corridors are needed in at least 4 of the 5 scenarios – these represent ‘no regrets’ investments for Europe with the benefits of the grid investments exceeding costs, often by a considerable distance.

Patrick Panciatici, RTE

Patrick explained that traditional grid studies are often conducted at national level, for single scenarios. and with the use of very simple snapshots used to model uncertainty. With massive integration of wind and solar, complexity is increasing and new approaches are needed.

Therefore, the objective of Patrick’s work package within the E-highways project was to produce new tools and methodology for optimisation-based approach to long-term grid planning. Applying this methodology should produce an optimal design of a very large grid, including a modular development plan over a very long time horizon.

Patrick set out a six-step process for optimisation-based grid planning, which addresses three key challenges:

  • Spatial complexity: the grid must be relevant from the level of smart cities to the level of the entire continent of Europe
  • Stochastic complexity: both weather and human behaviours are highly variable and must be understood in a stochastic manner
  • Temporal complexity: the relevant timelines for grid adequacy ranges from minutes to decades

Tomasz Jerzyniak, DG Energy

Responding to the presentations, Tomasz set out a view from the European Commission on the key learning points from the e-Highways2050 study alongside a summary of what the Commission is already doing in the areas of network planning.

Tomasz noted that the e-Highways2050 study gives a unique picture of the long-term need for transmission grid reinforcement. Therefore, he invited the e-Highways2050 project team to present the results to colleagues in DG Energy, including the teams working on projections and long term development. It is important that the results are further developed and regularly updated. ENTSO-E will need to play a key role in this with the E-Highways2050 approach mainstreamed in the TYNDP.

The key lesson from the e-Highways2050 study is that in order to meet our energy and climate objectives, we need transmission grid reinforcement in all scenarios with developments by 2030 to make sure that we are on the path to 2050. Tomasz highlighted that reinforcement is already taking place – but it doesn’t happen in isolation as work is needed to overcome challenges such as public acceptance, technology issues and access to finance.

The Commission is working to support the development of the European grid. It presented plans for meeting the 10% by 2020 interconnection target earlier this year, and will make specific proposals in Q3 2016 for reaching the agreed 15% interconnection target for 2030. The new list of Projects of Common Interest has been agreed and will be approved by the college of Commissioners on 18th November; this will include 25 projects double-labelled as electricity highways alongside their regional designation.

Conference Background

​​​The European Commission and the e-Highway2050 consortium are pleased to invite all interested stakeholders to the presentation and discussion of the final results of the e-Highway2050 project.

3-4 November 2015, Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Rue du Fossé-aux-Loups 47, 1000 Brussels

Electricity highways are defined as one of the 12 energy infrastructure priority corridors and areas in the Regulation on "Guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructures" (TEN-E regulation).

Europeans legitimately aspire to a sustainable, reliable and cost-efficient electricity supply. European leaders have set themselves ambitious climate and energy goals for 2050. These objectives were recently highlighted in the European Commission Communication on the Energy Union:

  • A well-functioning energy market;
  • Security of supply;
  • Energy efficiency, energy saving, and development of renewables;
  • Greater interconnection of energy networks.

To meet these objectives, the European Commission, following its proposal in the November 2010 Communication "Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond – a blueprint for an integrated European energy network" to immediately launch work to establish a modular development plan, launched in 2012 the e-Highway2050 research project with the aim of producing a module for the expansion of the European electricity grid up to 2050.

This modular plan will help the integration of the European electricity markets. It is also designed to enable the pan-European grid to host large quantities of electricity from renewable energy sources and transport it over long distances.

To build their network planning module, members of the e-Highway2050 project consortium have sought to identify what the future of Europe's electricity grid might look like in 2050 and to identify the corresponding needs for electricity highways, taking into consideration potential evolutions of renewable energy generation, technology, socio-economic conditions, environmental conditions, and network governance.

After 40 months of intense work, the project will be delivering its results on 3-4 November 2015. The e-Highway2050 Conference will present the main findings of the project and will offer a forum to discuss future implementation.

>> Register 

A limited number of hotel rooms is available at a preferential rates. When booking a room please follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the internet website: www.radissonblu.com/royalhotel-brussels
  2. Go to "find & book" and enter the dates
  3. Click on "more search options" and enter the following promotion code: ENTSO1
  4. The rates negotiated in the contract will now appear

For more information about the event please contact Mihai Paun.