The European Commission has published a new set of proposals on ‘risk preparedness’ designed to ensure that in the event of ‘emergency situations’ Europeans are better protected against electricity black-outs.
The plans, published on 30 November 2016 as part of a raft of measures aiming to put Energy Union in place, will ensure that EU countries have measures to prevent, prepare for and manage electricity crisis situations.
They also will require EU countries to cooperate to ensure that electricity goes to where it is most needed in crisis situations.
Normally, well-functioning energy markets and systems are the best guarantee of security of electricity supply. However, the risk of an electricity crisis as the result of extreme weather, malicious attacks or a fuel shortage cannot be excluded.
Moreover, the consequences of crisis situations often spill over national borders and large blackouts can have severe economic and social implications that are rarely confined to one country. For example, in 2006, a cruise ship in Germany tripped an electricity line – an event which affected 45 million people and impacted the entire continental power system.
Today, each EU country has a different approach to crisis situations and does not necessarily take account of the impact of its approach on other countries. This can be costly and undermine market function. Additionally, there is very little information sharing across borders. In today’s world in which electricity flows across borders, this is no longer sufficient.
The Commission’s new plans set out common ways to assess security of supply risks, as well as rules on how to prevent and prepare for crisis situations. The plans also establish common rules for managing crisis situations to ensure markets function for as long as possible and to make sure electricity goes where it is most needed.