29 Apr 2016

The EU power sector needs long-term price signals

Fabio Genoese / Eleanor Drabik / Christian Egenhofer

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By 2030, half of the EU’s electricity demand will be covered by renewables and will need to be accompanied by flexible conventional back-up resources. Due to the high upfront costs inherent to renewables and the progressively lower running times associated with back-up capacity, the cost of capital will have a proportionately greater impact on total costs than today. This report examines how electricity markets can be designed to provide long-term price signals, thereby reducing the cost of capital for these technologies and allowing for a more efficient transition. It finds that current market arrangements are unable to provide long-term price signals. To address this issue, we argue that a system for long-term contracts with a regulated counterparty could be implemented. A centralised system where capacity or energy or a combination of both is contracted, could be introduced for conventional and renewable capacity, based on a regional adequacy assessment and with a competitive bidding system in place to ensure cost-effectiveness. Member states face a number of legislative barriers while implementing these types of systems, however, which could be reduced by merging legislation and setting EU framework rules for the design of these contractual agreements.

Fabio Genoese is Research Fellow and Eleanor Drabik is Research Assistant at CEPS. Christian Egenhofer is Senior Fellow and Head of the Energy and Climate programme at CEPS and Director of the Energy Climate House.