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European Grid-Storage Policies

The energy sector is in a state of upheaval. Technical developments such as renewable energies, digitization, and electric vehicles, along with political objectives such as climate protection efforts and nuclear power elimination, give the future direction away from dirty fossils towards cleaner, more sustainable solutions.

EU Third Energy Package

In 2009, the EU adopted a set of legislative documents, known as the Third Energy Package, to open, regulate and steer the gas and electricity markets within and between member states.

The aims of the package include energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental improvements, including reducing air pollution and meeting the EU's obligations to combat climate change through decarbonisation of the energy market. The package aims to accelerate investment in energy infrastructure and the diversification of energy sources.

In order to reduce the market concentration to a small number of large companies in each member state, the EU proposes to establish an alternative system based on ownership unbundling, independent system operators (ISO) and independent transmission operators (ITO).

Ownership unbundling refers to removing a barrier to the development of a sustainable energy system in the conflict of interests inherent within generation companies which are also owners of transmissions networks. The third energy package proposes to open the market by separating generation from transmission, through amongst other measures the establishment of National Regulatory Authorities (NRA), coordinated by the centralised Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).

Europe 2020 Strategy

The European Union is a world leader in environmental and energy policies, and has a 2050 climate target, with two intermediate targets for 2020 and 2030.

2020: in all member states, greenhouse gases will be reduced by at least 20% compared to 1990, at least 20% of all energy will be from renewable sources, and there will be an improvement in energy efficiency of 20% compared to 2008.

2030: greenhouse gases will be reduced by at least 40% compared to 1990, at least 27% of all energy will be from renewable sources, and there will be an improvement in energy efficiency of 27% (30% according to the 30.11.16 Energy Efficiency Update) compared to 2008. There is also a clause specifying that 15% electricity transboundary interconnection would be allowed an desirable.

2050: greenhouse gases will be reduced by at least 80-95% compared to 1990, as laid out in the Energy Roadmap 2050.

By 2015, GHGs had already been reduced by 22% in the EU. Renewables (wind power, solar power (thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated), hydro power, tidal power, geothermal energy, biofuels and the renewable part of waste) had reached 16.7% share of energy by 2015. At current rates of improvement, energy efficiency will be 18-19% by 2020.

The sources of GHGs in the EU-28 (2015) are: fuel combustion (excl. transport) 55%, transport (road and aviation) 23%, industry 8%, agriculture 10%, waste management 3%.

The European Union has some of the world's most ambitious plans for meeting climate change obligations through an energy transition programme, which includes almost total decarbonisation of all energy use by mid-century.