REPowerEU: Time to Apply the Learnings From Innovation Projects

The need for boosting the energy transition has never been clearer than in recent months. Klaus Livik, Chief Strategist at Volue, says that it’s now time to apply the lessons learned from sandboxes and innovation projects to ensure the success of the REPowerEU plan.

Repowereu innovation

In the past month, the need for an energy supply that is both secure and clean has come to the surface as a critical issue all over Europe.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed Europe to re-think the security of its energy sources. Both the diversification of energy sources and decarbonisation are on the agenda.

At the same time, the recently released UN climate report has been clear that we are on a global warming path that will be destructive to our environment and humanity unless we act immediately.

Yes, it’s high time to examine how we power our societies and to make concerted efforts to shift to secure and clean energy sources.

Recently, the EU put together REPowerEU, a joint European action plan that aims to speed up the EU’s adoption of secure and clean energy.

The key areas of proposed urgent actions include electrification, energy efficiency, and the adoption of wind, PVs, and heat pumps.

If the plan is put into action, the EU estimates that it can cut as much as 1128 TWh worth of Russian gas already in the course of 2022.

To succeed, we will require joint efforts from a wide range of involved parties – including companies like Volue that are at the forefront of energy innovation.

To succeed, we will require joint efforts from a wide range of involved parties – including companies like Volue that are at the forefront of energy innovation.

Klaus Livik Chief Strategist at Volue
Klaus Livik

Removing regulatory barriers

For Volue, the energy industry in Europe is our home market. With IT solutions and services for a major part of the energy management value chain, we are in a pole position to contribute with digital technology to this plan.

However, our experience suggests that one of the most important steps towards REPowerEU is to remove the regulatory barriers that would slow down or stop the plan.

We face a wide range of barriers. These barriers will likely surprise some.

A report from Eclareon, the international consultancy that supports institutions engaged in renewable energy, published in March 2022 identifies and assesses the barriers to large scale wind and solar projects in the EU and the UK.

The conclusion is that there are significant – and partly blocking – barriers to new projects in all countries. They are not of technological character, but rather linked to administrative processes and regulatory frameworks.

The REPowerEU initiative addresses not only large scale projects, but gives due attention to areas such as local renewables, including flexibility, energy efficiency, heat pumps, sector coupling and storage.

These local-driven projects are not facing the same barriers as large scale renewable rollouts. However, many locally-driven projects are facing barriers that must still be overcome.

In the EU Horizon2020 project +CityxChange, Volue is involved in a task that identifies and assesses the most obvious barriers experienced in energy communities and smart neighbourhoods.

To fully understand barriers that hinder the energy transition, a post-transition phase is defined – with a digitally supported local community and renewables as described in the REPowerEU actions.

The city of Trondheim, Norway, with its demonstration areas where Volue is a partner, has acted as the reference for what we envisage will happen in the near future.

A general conclusion is that the barriers are not technological, but there are weaknesses and a lack of future-proof incentives. The lessons learned from the +CityxChange project are that for a fast implementation of local renewables, flexibility, sector coupling, and storage, it is crucial that the regulatory framework provides for what we expect will be the near-future reality.

What the near-future looks like

• Local grid operation with a fast-growing share of renewables.

• Taxation and grid tariffs that promote local coordination and utilisation of renewables.

• Local batteries – supporting system operation, flexibility, trade, and consumers.

• Uniformed definition of local energy system roles and responsibilities.

• Decentralised balance management and trade of renewable power.

• Clear rules for how to locally trade flexibility – independent of capacity.

• Operational responsibilities in energy communities.

• Digitalisation as a key enabler for the transition.

• Renewable communities are a key success factor to “fit for 55”.

The existing regulatory framework is made for a stable “business as usual” energy industry and not for the REpowEU plan. Many EU projects establish “regulatory sandboxes” with the purpose to offer time-limited demonstrations of local energy markets and communities. It is now time to apply the lessons learned from sandboxes and innovation projects to ensure success with the REPowerEU plan.

As someone working closely with energy transition projects at Volue, I know that we are more than ready to contribute with software and services to support a speedy transition. Once the regulatory framework is in place!

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