The Need for Increased Flexibility in the EU Power System for Renewable Energy Growth

The European Union (EU) Member States are being urged to significantly increase their renewable power capacity in order to meet the EU’s 2030 renewables target of 42.5%. As the share of variable renewable energy sources such as wind and solar increases, the EU electricity system will require greater flexibility to accommodate these fluctuations. In a joint report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), it is highlighted that the flexibility of Europe’s power system needs to almost double by 2030 to keep up with the growth of renewables.

Flexibility, in this context, refers to the ability of the power system to adjust to the changing generation and consumption of energy. Currently, most of the flexibility in the power system is provided by peak generation gas plants. However, with the transition to clean energy, additional sources of flexibility are needed from both the demand and supply sides. The report emphasizes the importance of enhanced electricity interconnection, which involves building more grids across borders and making better use of existing grid capacity. Interconnectors facilitate the efficient flow of electricity to where it is most needed, thus contributing to flexibility.

The report also stresses the significance of demand response and energy savings in providing flexibility. By reducing energy consumption during periods of peak demand, demand response and energy savings not only lower energy bills but also contribute to the deployment of renewables. Price signals and reliable information for consumers are highlighted as essential factors in driving investments and influencing consumer behavior.

To achieve the necessary increase in flexibility, the report calls for better assessment of flexibility needs at both national and EU levels. It suggests the inclusion of flexibility plans in Member States’ National Energy and Climate Plans and the integration of detailed energy data in greenhouse gas emission projections. This would foster regional cooperation and ensure common policies across borders.

In conclusion, as the EU aims to decarbonize its electricity supply and achieve long-term climate neutrality, the need for flexibility in the power system becomes paramount. By implementing the recommendations outlined in the report, Member States can unlock collaboration synergies, enhance energy security, and support the growth of renewables.

– EEA/ACER Report 09/2023
– ACER – EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators
– EEA – European Environment Agency






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