The switch to Renewable Energy Sources (RES) is key for decarbonizing the economy in line with the Paris Agreement and the EU’s objectives to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80-95% by 2050 from a 1990 baseline. In 2017 in the EU-28, the energy sector (excluding transport) was responsible for over 50% of total GHG emissions. Moreover, 72,2% of all energy was produced from coals, crude oil and natural gas, while the RES share accounted for ca. 13,6%, according to Eurostat. In parallel to moving away from fossil fuels, there is a growing impetus to phase out nuclear power plants. This also applies to the Trinational Metropolitan Region Oberrhein (Upper Rhine) – TMO comprising parts of Germany, France and Switzerland. For instance, Germany has committed itself to a nuclear phase-out by 2022. In France, the Energy Transition Law passed in 2015 calls for a reduction in the nuclear energy share from today’s ca. 75% to 50% of electricity production by 2025, and in Switzerland the Energy Strategy 2050 adopted in 2014 prohibits the construction of new nuclear power plants and provides for strategies for the planned nuclear phase-out. Moreover, the TMO countries have different RES priorities as well as political, legislative and cultural frameworks.
In the 2016 “Clean Energy for all Europeans” package of legislative proposals, the EU Commission recognized the potentials of regional energy systems and called for regional solutions with viable capacity mechanisms to ensure security of supply, energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the context of decentralized generation from RES. It also highlighted that security of supply in a fully interconnected and synchronized intra-European network can be achieved more efficiently, especially in border regions, than on a purely national level or the current European energy market model.
The new policy framework adopted in 2019 will help to achieve these goals inter alia by reaping the benefits of cross-border trade and competition. For instance, the revised Electricity Regulation introduces stricter and harmonized rules for capacity mechanisms for enhanced regional coordination. It also introduces new targets for the year 2030: an interconnection target of 15%, a 32% renewable energy target, and a 32,5% energy efficiency target. The new electricity market design should increase system flexibility and ensure security of supply through measures including enhanced dispatch rules, demand response and better coordination of electricity system operations by Transmission System Operators (TSOs) on a regional level.