EU Science Hub

Energy security, systems and market

A modern energy infrastructure is crucial for an integrated energy market and to enable the EU to meet its broader climate and energy goals. Europe must modernise and expand its energy network to absorb energy from renewable sources and secure supplies everywhere. This requires considerable investment in the existing gas and electricity networks, with rapid development of their interconnections. Indeed, security of supply, competitiveness or sustainability goals will never be met without resilient, reliable and smart energy networks.

The JRC aims to provide a solid and comprehensive understanding of energy security in support of EU policy, notably in relation to fossil fuels (mainly gas and oil) and power systems. The aim of the JRC’s Energy Security Unit is to aid and inform the Member States and European Institutions on issues relevant to ensuring the uninterrupted physical availability of energy products on the market at an affordable price for all consumers. The JRC assesses how different policy options help shape an energy system resilient to shocks and adverse trends whilst satisfying society’s energy needs.

Smart Electricity Systems

Smart electricity systems, or smart grids, are electricity networks set up to continuously process and respond to the behaviour and actions of producers and consumers in order to efficiently deliver electricity supplies. Many countries in Europe and worldwide are now promoting concepts for smarter grids and ‘super grids’ (wide area transmission networks to trade high volumes of electricity across great distances) in order to integrate new resources and technologies in the power system, such as renewable energies, storage devices and electric vehicles.

Oil and Gas

Fossil fuels are by far the largest sources of energy in Europe. Oil, gas and coal represented just over 75% of gross inland consumption in 2010. While governmental support will ensure that alternative sources such as renewable energy increasingly contribute to the total energy supply, fossil fuels are widely projected to dominate the European energy mix until at least 2030. The EU focuses on securing oil and gas supplies for Europe and making the markets more transparent, fair and competitive.

Security of Gas Supply

Given the importance of hydrocarbons in the EU's energy mix, the strong dependence on foreign supplies, and the geopolitical uncertainty in many producer regions, it is vital to analyse the infrastructural requirements for guaranteeing the satisfaction of the European needs. In this context, the JRC develops and implements models to study the EU gas transmission system, the flows across borders providing techno-economic analyses of energy security. These models and methods enable the identification and analysis of potential crises and flaws affecting the gas infrastructure and markets. The JRC also supports Member States developing preventive action plans to avoid these flaws and setting up emergency preparedness scenarios in case there is an infrastructure or market disruption.

Risk Assessment of Gas 

On 10 October 2010, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted Regulation 994/2010 on the security of gas supply. The Regulation aims at safeguarding the security of gas supply by ensuring the proper and continuous functioning of the internal natural gas market, by allowing exceptional measures when the market is not able to meet the gas needs of the EU and by establishing the responsibilities among the different stakeholders involved.

Techno-Economic Assessment for the Hydrocarbon Sector

An important aspect of the hydrocarbon sector regards the functioning of their markets, the interaction with other sectors, and the current and future energy infrastructure. In this context, DG JRC develops and uses models to provide an in-depth understanding of the energy system. In particular, DG JRC conducts techno-economic assessment to evaluate supply, demand, prices, security of supply, competition, market integration etc. For this purpose, crisis scenarios, new investments, changes in regulation, new cross-border interconnections, changing targets etc. are simulated to examine the potential implications for the achievement of the EU policy goals, on a local, regional, pan-European and even global scale.

Unconventional Hydrocarbons

Fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas and coal are by far the largest sources of energy in the EU and are widely projected to dominate the European energy mix to at least 2030. In recent years, two key developments have shifted the focus to so-called ‘unconventionals’. The first has been mounting concern that growing demand for energy worldwide would outstrip supply. The second factor has been a dramatic increase in unconventional gas production in North America, to roughly 50% of domestic production.

Oil and Gas Offshore safety

Offshore oil and gas are currently the main indigenous sources of hydrocarbon in the EU, covering an important fraction of our energy needs. Nevertheless, offshore drilling is not free of risks; major accidents with large consequences to human health, marine environment and coastal economies, may happen. Exploration activities are also moving towards deeper waters and borderline operations (e.g. high pressure – high temperature) and to more sensitive environments (e.g. Arctic), where hazards are more difficult to keep under control.