The French electrical grid is connected to the grids of all neighbouring European Union member states, as well as the United Kingdom's and Switzerland's grids. Depending on dates, interconnectors enable us to export our energy surplus or import at a low cost to balance national electricity supply and demand.
On Monday 12 September 2016, the German energy giant E.ON listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange a company called Uniper, following its decision to focus on its “green” activities (i.e. renewable energies, energy networks and customer services) and to entrust Uniper with the more traditional electricity generation business from hydro, gas and coal stations. Less than a month later, on Friday 7 October 2016, it was the turn of the other major German energy company - RWE - to split itself into two, by listing on the stock market Innogy, which regroups its “green” activities. These splits are evidence of the major transformation of the electricity industry over the last 20 years, and they anticipate the major changes of the future. This blog post looks back at the first and considers a few areas of discussion for the second.
Following the election of Donald Trump, there has been a spat of various explanations as to why he has won. Let me synthesize here the various explanations that I have been able to find so far. I find this discussion fascinating not only for scientific reasons, but also because they speak to what seems to be major changes affecting all the western democracies.
The widespread use of self-driving cars promises to bring substantial benefits to transportation efficiency, public safety and personal well-being. Car manufacturers are working to overcome the remaining technical challenges that stand in the way of this future.
An investigation led by the British Competition and Markets Authority on the retail gas and electricity markets has found that they would operate better if consumers took the time to sign up for better offers. To encourage consumers to do this, the CMA plans to create a database listing the most inert consumers. The database would be available to all gas/electricity suppliers and energy service providers, which they could use to seek new customers.
Thomas Piquemal’s sensational resignation as EDF's Chief Financial Officer at the beginning of March 2016 - and the ensuing political and media frenzy – have highlighted EDF’s difficulties in building two nuclear generation reactors at the Hinkley Point site in England, and more generally the problems currently affecting the French nuclear sector. This episode is the consequence of errors and failings in public policy, both in Great Britain and France. What lessons can economists draw from it?
With a lack of sufficient storage capacity and consumer habits which do not line up with the offer provided by solar and wind power, the growing importance of variable renewable energy in the production of electricity is forcing producers to maintain replacement capacity.