Utilization of Scenarios in European Electricity Policy: The Ten-Year Network Development Plan

The transformation of the European Union’s energy sector poses a number of challenges to the European electricity system. Above all, both the anticipated increase of intermittent electricity from renewable sources and the completion of the internal energy market while guaranteeing a secure supply require an extensive development of electricity infrastructure at the European level. Nevertheless, Europe’s future electricity system entails numerous uncertainties. For example, the definite amount and the location of both electricity generation and consumption are unpredictable. In order to address these ambiguities, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) develops the two-yearly Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP). By exploring different plausible future paths using scenarios, the TYNDP aims to identify key infrastructure projects – namely transmission lines and cross-border interconnectors – for the future electricity system. In this capacity, the TYNDP is the central planning tool for European grid infrastructure. This paper explores whether the TYNDP effectively provides a solid planning foundation for future grid investments. For this end, the TYNDPs 2012-2018 are investigated in the light of European energy policies, and their utilization by stakeholders is scrutinized. The paper argues that an existing policy congruence and the strong link to the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) confine the TYNDP solely to the hardware of the electricity system. This in turn profoundly limits the TYNDP’s effectiveness as a strategic planning tool. Hence, a closer connection to the software components of the anticipated European electricity system – namely the future market design and (European) regulations – would further allow for a holistic planning and evaluation of future electricity infrastructure projects.

By: Alexander Scheibe

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