EU eyes ‘billions’ worth in flexibility from local electricity grids

(EurActiv, 24 Apr 2023) As Europe shuts down its remaining coal power plants and turns away from volatile gas for electricity generation, it is also losing key flexible power supplies that can be switched on at the last minute to keep the lights on during peak hours.

To replace those, the European Union hopes to tap into what many consider the cheapest fuel of all – energy efficiency technologies, or the fuel that isn’t burned.

Chief among them is demand-response solutions allowing households to manage their electricity consumption.

“There is a lack of non-fossil flexibility, such as demand response and storage,” said EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson in a speech at the 2023 summit of smartEn, a trade association promoting demand-side flexibility technologies.

“These solutions directly compete with gas-fired generation and thus reduce our dependence on it,” Simson said at the event, held on Wednesday (19 April). They are also “a crucial enabler” for wind and solar power, which are expected to be used to meet EU climate goals, she added.

The energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine has highlighted the urgent need to replace fossil fuels in power generation, Simson underlined.

But contrary to coal and gas, wind and solar are non-dispatchable sources of electricity, meaning they need backup from other flexible energy sources to keep the grid in balance, or else the European Union could face blackouts.

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EurActiv, 24 Apr 2023: EU eyes ‘billions’ worth in flexibility from local electricity grids