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Action Needed – Advancing Flexible and Efficient Electricity Grid Operations

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Action Needed – Advancing Flexible and Efficient Electricity Grid Operations

Dear Members of the Energy Council,

As the Electrification Alliance, a network of 10 European organisations representing all segments of the electricity value chain, we write to call on Member States to foster the flexible and efficient operation of electricity grids while planning their sufficient expansion and reinforcement to reach the EU’s net-zero climate targets. As it stands, most national network development plans have not been updated to reflect the updated renewables-based electrification targets in the national energy and climate plans (NECPs) for both
transmission and distribution grids. Moreover, these plans do not sufficiently consider how we can use the existing and planned electricity grids in smarter and more efficient ways.

With the upcoming informal Energy Council meeting, we wish to draw attention to two issues that demand urgent consideration. Firstly, the imperative need to fully align the national grid plans with NECPs for identifying adequate anticipatory investments. Secondly, there is an urgent need to accelerate the smart and efficient use of existing and planned electricity grids to enable storage technologies and consumers to play an active role in bringing flexibility to the grid.

The expansion and reinforcement of grids typically entail a timeline ranging from 3 to 10 years. These developments are essential to ensure the reliability and resilience of our energy system while advancing towards our collective climate objectives. Alongside robust grid expansion planning and implementation, optimising the use of existing and underdeveloped grids is paramount. We firmly believe that consumers can actively contribute to grid stability and efficiency through their actions. By embracing flexibility and adjusting their behind-the-meter assets in response to market-based signals, such as through frequency management and ancillary services, consumers can ease pressure on the grid and help minimise/reduce investment costs.

Moreover, we advocate for a harmonised legal framework for non-firm connection agreements 1 where new firm capacity connections are not feasible – in a way that is smooth for grid users and does not delay grid development. These agreements offer a pragmatic mechanism to manage grid constraints while accommodating new renewables and electrified consumers. However, non-firm connection agreements for renewables should be temporary and should not postpone necessary grid expansion on the costs of generation asset developers and consumers at large, nor create a barrier to the market-based procurement of flexibility. This request is a no-brainer and necessary to integrate increasing shares of variable renewables and flexible electrified consumers.

To address these urgent needs, TSO and DSO investment frameworks need to adequately accommodate total expenditure (TOTEX), or both capital and operational expenditure (CAPEX and OPEX), to develop a smart, adaptive, and resilient electricity grid. Such investments, coupled with the active engagement of consumers, are fundamental to ensuring the effective management of our electricity networks. As we collectively strive towards a clean energy future, we urge Member States to prioritise the advancement of
flexible and efficient grid operations to support optimum grid expansion and reinforcement.

Thank you for your attention on this critical matter.