Infrastructures for Energy System Integration

Network planning and operation: a holistic approach

​​​​In an integrated energy system, network planning and operation are carried out via a holistic approach for both large-scale and local infrastructures. This includes all the energy carriers (electricity, gas, blended, hydrogen, CO2, heating, district energy, liquid fuels) and would cover a longer timeframe than the ten years required by the current network​​​planning.

Such integrated approach is generally missing in the current energy market design and regulatory framework, with only few exceptions:

  • The “Recast Renewable Energy Directive" (2018) establishes that Member States require electricity distribution system operators to assess at least every four years, in cooperation with the local heating or cooling operators, the potential for district heating or cooling systems to provide balancing and other system services and whether this would be more resource and cost efficient than alternative solutions.

  • The “Recast Electricity Directive" (2019) has established the obligation for TSOs to consider alternatives to network expansion such as energy storage installations, including power-to-gas facilities. It has also established specific and exceptional conditions for Member States to grant their electricity TSOs the possibility to develop, manage, or operate energy storage facilities while the current gas regulatory framework does not allow it.​

What does ACER say?

ACER and CEER highlighted the importance of precluding network operators from investing in potentially competitive activities and open to the possibility of granting limited exemptions to invest in market assets to get the market started, following a careful analysis of cost and benefits of the proposed investment and its impact on competition, with some requirements and restrictions to avoid any market abusive behaviours.

ACER and CEER also issued the paper Position on Revision of the Trans-European Energy Networks Regulation (TEN-E) and Infrastructure Governance,  recommending the European Commission to:

  • Improve infrastructure development governance

  • Focus on the principles for PCI scope

  • Improve the TEN-E process

The European Commission Communication Powering a climate-neutral economy: An EU Strategy for Energy System Integration considers a new and holistic approach to infrastructure planning and operation as a key driver for decarbonisation via energy system integration. This would be achieved by, among others, reviewing the scope and governance of the Ten Years National Development Plan, as well as of the TEN-E and TEN-T regulations to support a more integrated energy system, the acceleration of investments in renewable-based district heating and cooling networks.​