The EU needs an Anglo-French electricity grid interconnector so that wind from Northern Europe can flow south and that sun from Southern Europe can flow north to cut energy prices.
That was the key message that Ed Davey, UK Energy Minister delivered at the latest annual meeting of France’s Syndicat des Énergies Renouvelables when it met in Paris to consider the EU’s role in tackling energy and climate changes issues.
Setting both policies in the context of the rapid ‘game-changing’ exploitation of shale gas in the USA which is driving down both domestic American and international energy prices, Davey said that the EU must respond to the US shale gas revolution. He said:
“First, we must step up the integration and interconnection of European energy markets so that countries can buy clean, competitive, low carbon electricity from wherever it is cheapest.
“That means across Europe we must fully implement the EU’s energy liberalisation legislation by the end of next year and facilitate investment in the physical links that make the interconnections possible.
“There are so many advantages the single energy market offers renewable energy that the UK and France should be better linked.
“We believe interconnection between the UK and France could be boosted by up to 5GW with a number of Projects of Common Interest being pursued.
So we must look at the opportunities that regional projects can offer to drive this process.A key project for the UK and Northern Europe is the innovative work to explore how a North Sea Offshore Grid could support investment and cross-border trading in offshore wind, wave and tidal energy.
“You heard it here first – a British Minister calling for a European supergrid.
“Second, we must develop strategies and invest more and urgently in focused R&D and innovation for Europe’s energy intensive industries that go beyond the sticking plaster of State Aid and, dramatically cut the energy usage and/or carbon emissions from our energy intensive industries.
“And third, unless the potential of home-grown electricity and gas production is unlocked, in the UK and across Europe, we won’t see downward pressures on prices strong enough to offset fast rising demand.
“That must include renewable energy, above all. But for Britain it will include unlocking the potential for European shale gas.”
Meanwhile, from a low starting position in 2007, renewable electricity generation in the UK has more than doubled since 2010, and Davey added:
“Up to 15% of British electricity now comes from renewables – enough energy to power more than 10 million homes – halfway to our objective of generating around 30% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
“I believe we are on track to beat our renewable electricity targets for 2020. Offshore wind is a particular success.
The UK has more offshore wind operating turbines deployed in the sea than anywhere else in the world, and is internationally recognised as the best place to invest.
“And last year alone electricity generated from offshore wind leapt by 51%.”