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EU and Energy Security: What lies ahead?

Statements by Florian Baumann, C·A·P's Expert for Energy Policy

28.10.2011 · spravy.pravda.sk


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Questions:

1. What are the main challenges for the EU energy security for the upcoming years?

2. And probably interrelated question: What are the energy infrastructure priorities for the upcoming years?

Florian Baumann, Assistant Professor, Senior Researcher, Research Group on European Affairs, Center for Applied Policy Research,University of Munich

1. I think there are three main challenges to European energy security. The first one is import dependence itself. More and more fossil fuels, at least in the mid-term perspective, will have to be imported from third countries that often are not really stable and democratic. Some of them may even use energy exports, or to be precise energy cutoffs, as a political lever (the so called “energy weapon”). Closely linked to that is the problem of increasing international rivalry over decreasing (conventional) fossil resources. This may lead to severe regional conflicts (e.g. in producer states) and international contestation for the access to energy resources.

The second major challenge is the emerging EU internal energy market and the lack of connectivity. One the one hand the national energy markets become more integrated on the other hand is the market design (technically, legally and economically) still not completely able to function in an EU-wide scope. This is virulent both internally (obstacles to cross-border trade or the lack of reverse-flow capacity) as well as externally (the missing “single voice” towards suppliers or transit-countries or a comprehensive strategy for a common European external energy policy).

The third key challenge, as I see it, is the divide between politics on the one hand and economic actors and technology on the other. One example thereof is the promotion of renewable sources for electricity generation. Nobody really can say that renewables will technically be available in sufficient capacities by 2020 but the political rules therefor exist. A second one is the debate on unbundling. The Commission and many other political actors see it as solution to the lack of competition in Europe but the question remains who will operate and invest in new networks if not the energy majors. I am not a critic of RES or competition in energy markets but I see the different perspectives of politics and business as a structural problem for EU energy security.

2. Regarding your second question there is a short answer: infrastructures. European energy policy, and the internal energy market in particular, stands and falls with the success of trans-European interconnection. It is the most important prerequisite for cross-border trade and competition, joint emergency mechanisms (“energy solidarity”), and a sustainable energy system of the future (“green energies” will only convince if you link together Mediterranean solar power, Northern wind power, biomass from Eastern Europe and hydropower from the mountainous regions).

(...)

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