• The increase in production of energy from intermittent renewable sources poses two problems for programmable energy plants: volume, because a reliable production capacity is needed to meet demands not covered by wind turbines and solar panels; and flexibility, because the need for additional energy can vary greatly over very short periods of time. In this article, we will leave wind turbines aside to focus on the alternating day and night cycles of solar energy production.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • marché, européen, europe, union, libéralisation

    The first directive liberalising the European electricity markets is celebrating its 20th anniversary at the end of the year. What conclusions can we draw from these two decades of liberalisation?

  • Because it produces a non-storable commodity, the electric power industry has had to make enormous investments in reliable production and transport capacity in order to grow.

  • The French capacity mechanism, designed to subsidise electrical production when the demand is high, is being reviewed by the European Commission. Is this mechanism efficient? What about European solidarity?

  • It is difficult to find a facet of politics which does not relate, in some way, to energy issues. Conversely, most decisions relating to energy have a range of knock-on effects (many of them hard to predict and manage) on many aspects of social life. It is therefore understandable (without condoning such behaviour) that governments are reluctant to abandon control of this vital industry to regulators and competition authorities. It is also easy to understand the reticence of national governments to let Brussels build an Energy Union. Yet they would have much to gain from such an endeavour.


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