Creating a competitive market beyond subsidies

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1 Creating a competitive market beyond subsidies Policy Paper July 2015

2 Key messages An energy system in which variable renewable energy sources play an increasingly important role, is not only possible, but it is also economically attractive. Such a system would combine cost-effective power supplies from solar and wind power with the use of various flexibility options across the whole energy system, making the best use of electricity when it is cheaply available. Several no-regrets options will pave the way for this transition: Creating fair market access for all players An enhanced enforcement of the European Target Model for the Internal Electricity Market and additional measures will be essential to improve the liquidity of intraday and balancing markets. This should go along with the open access to balancing markets for all players, and the re-definition of products and services to achieve greater granularity on these markets. Also, regulated system operators should be encouraged, rather than hindered, to enter into contractual agreements for the provision of system services from decentralised generators and consumers. Thinking beyond capacity mechanisms A discussion about narrowly defined capacity mechanisms falls short of encompassing all possible solutions and could undermine important market signals and create inefficient lock-in effects. A thorough analysis should therefore precede the introduction of any mechanism. Preference should be given to market-based solutions and the development of new contract- and pricing structure to enable long-term investments for market players. Putting in place an adequate CO2 price and providing the framework conditions for renewable energy investments Until a fully flexible and efficient power system and market has been realised and a strengthened Emissions Trading Scheme reflects the true costs of CO2 emissions, variable renewable energy sources like solar power will depend on a stable regulatory framework until and beyond 2020 that reduces the investment risk, whilst driving increasing interaction with the market. For small- and medium-scale installations this will largely build upon models for the self-consumption of electricity, whilst investments above 1MW are likely to be driven by competitive tendering schemes. SolarPower Europe believes that a determined strategy and regulatory adaptations could achieve a flexible and competitive energy market by 2025, making solar photovoltaic electricity fully competitive. 2

3 Sustainable technologies for a sustainable market Europe s power system is changing. In the last decade, wind, solar and gas were the three main technologies seeing new installations, whilst power capacity from most other generating technologies stagnated or went down. Much of the renewable technologies development happened in the wake of a political imperative to move towards sustainable, secure and cost-effective energy supply. Today, the generation costs of solar and wind power technologies are already at the same level as new fossil and nuclear power plants, and they are becoming ever more competitive. In fact, according to recent scientific analysis, solar power will be the cheapest form of electricity in many regions in the world within a decade. Costs of large-scale solar photovoltaics are expected to reach 4-6 ct /kwh by 2025, and 2-4 ct /kwh by The levelised costs of solar power and wind are already in the same range as conventional fuels today, even without taking into account the external costs to society However, today s market environment does not reflect this competitiveness. Some of the key barriers of a truly competitive market include: Market access constraints while liquidity is a must for a competitive environment A fragmented energy policy while the interaction between production and consumption, as well as the link between electricity, heating and transport are becoming ever more important An insufficient emissions trading scheme and an over-supply of old baseload generation while flexibility is necessary for an efficient system

4 It is time for Europe to overcome these barriers in order to reap the full benefits of the necessary transition towards an affordable, clean and secure power system that can be self-sustainable without subsidies. A smart transition towards this modern energy system will not happen as one big step. It is not a revolution, but a pathway. To pave this pathway, political resolve is essential to remove barriers and lead to a market in which renewable energy sources can compete freely. Solar power is often already cost-competitive, but today s market conditions don t reflect this. 1. How does this competitive future market look? A cost-effective energy market would be based on large contributions of variable electricity from solar and wind energy, and a high degree of flexibility to make the optimal use of energy when it is cheaply available. This means tapping into the large potentials for demand response, storage and flexible power generation to complement variability. To further enhance the flexibility of the system, energy policies should take an integrated view at the electricity, heating and transport sectors. In the US, demand response has already reduced system peak demand by as much as 10-12%, and shifted electricity use to time when power is abundant, saving the power system billions of dollars. 2 This illustrates the opportunities of demand response that Europe has yet to start exploiting. Energy storage offers another vast opportunity that will be essential for a strong energy system. This concerns both, the further use of established storage technologies like pumped hydro capacity, as well as the rapidly developing battery storage capacity for short-term, first, and later seasonal storage. The electrification of the transport sector and the use or production of electricity e.g. for heat pumps or Combined Heat and Power plants offers further potential for flexibilisation. The smart charging and also discharging of car batteries can support the power grid both on a local, regional and system scale. Heat pumps and electric heaters represent another possibility of balancing power use with supply patterns, and combined heat and power plants can become important source of system flexibility and storage, without impacting consumer s convenience or well-being. 3 All possibilities should be used to operate efficiently a power system. Renewable generators like solar and wind power plants are capable of delivering grid support services and will play an important role in stabilising the electricity system. Already today, photovoltaics and wind plants can provide important system service for voltage and frequency control. The potentials start to be recognised today. Renewable power generators should have the possibility to market these services, which would both stabilise the system and provide an additional source of revenue for renewable power producers. 2 E3G: Harnessing Demand Side Resources in Electricity Markets Henrik Lund, Sven Werner, Robin Wiltshire, Svend Svendsen, Jan Eric Thorsen, Frede Hvelplund, Brian Vad Mathiesen, 4th Generation District Heating (4GDH) Integrating smart thermal grids into future sustainable energy systems - Energy, Vol. 68, p

5 The so-called duck-curve illustrates how the introduction of solar power reduces the need for residual electricity generation during the day, whilst power demand will still be high in the evening. The use of storage, demand response, and the interaction with the heating and transport sectors will ensure a better use of electricity when power is cheap, while releasing the pressure in the evening. Without affecting people s lifestyles, this will have a balancing effect on prices throughout the day Source: Caliso 2013 The combination of the best use of both renewables and system flexibility options can help balance power prices and secure the supply of electricity around the clock. The future power system is thus affordable, secure and convenient for its users. A smart and affordable power system will make optimal use of energy when it is available cheaply. 5

6 2. What is standing in the way? Unfortunately, today s market conditions do not offer the level playing field that is needed to a competitive power market. Rules, regulations and system hardware, like power plants and grids, have developed around the traditional model of an electricity system with centralised fossil and nuclear power producing and end users passively consuming electricity. To allow for a market that benefits all generators and customers, three important hurdles have to be overcome: Market access should be possible for all players, A holistic view should connect supply and demand as well as integrating the approach towards heating and transport, and The market should send investment signals for further system development. The rules and regulations governing today s electricity market are largely fit for conventional power generation, but they often exclude or hamper new technologies and solutions leading to a reduction of the efficiency of the overall system. Power is often traded with a long time-perspective, while liquidity in intra-day and balancing markets is still very low. Gate-closure times happen long, before power is actually consumed, and access to markets is sometimes linked to the size of a system or entrance fees that exclude especially smaller players from active participation. Also the definition of products in some markets does allow for the exploitation of all potential offers. For example, products on balancing markets are often defined in blocks of 8, 12 or even 24 hours, and contracted months or years in advance. This naturally excludes offerings from variable renewable power generators, but also storage and demand response. A greater granularity of products would improve system efficiency and stability, while allowing for an inclusion of all cost-effective offers. The European Target Model for the Even though the renewable energy supply in the Belgian example from June 2013 is not particularly high, the high share of inflexible must-run capacity has led to negative prices on the power exchange when power demand reduced. These strong price fluctuations reflect the insufficient flexibility in the system Source: 3E Market4RES,

7 Internal Electricity Market has brought about important progress towards more flexible and inclusive markets, but it does not yet go far enough to provide a true level playing field for all market participants. At the same time, the top-down perspective on Europe s energy markets is being challenged by the emergence of more decentralised power generation and the more active engagement of consumers. This includes the increasing importance of so-called prosumers who generate part or all of their own electricity, whilst still interacting with the power system. Rules and responsibilities for distribution system operators and new market entrants are often insufficient to reflect the new opportunities and challenges. The uncertainty about the regulatory framework, financial charges, obligations and remuneration currently hamper the full exploitation of new possibilities. Finally, important investment signals are missing in the electricity market today. An oversupply of old baseload power generation led to both inflexibility and a dilution of market price signals. However, the European Emissions Trading Scheme is currently insufficient to provide a price signal for the most polluting power plants to retire and make space for important new investments in the market. In this context, Europe s power market is showing artificially low prices, and paradoxically pushes out less polluting and flexible capacity. Only if price signals reflect the full cost of electricity today, and if a variability of prices shows at what times power is cheaply available and when it is short, will Europe develop a power market in which different generators and flexibility options will receive the market signals they need. An overcapacity of outdated baseload plants is standing in the way of effective market signals. 7

8 How do we get there? Europe has taken important first steps in the direction of a competitive and sustainable energy market, but further measures are necessary. Considering the long investment frameworks in the energy sector, energy policies should take a strategic perspective and focus on the no-regrets options that will facilitate the transition. These include creating fair market access for all players, a critical assessment and wide perspective on capacity mechanisms, and a cost-efficient investment framework for renewable energy sources until a level playing field has been achieved. a) Creating fair market access for all players The so-called Target Model for the European Internal Energy Market has already led to improvements of market inclusiveness and flexibility, in particular with a view to liquidity and cross-border trading in day-ahead markets. However, progress in the activation of liquid short-term markets is still very slow, and ongoing efforts can only be considered a first step in an attempt to create competitive and open markets for all electricity suppliers and energy users. Solar power is able to provide important system services such as active power reduction, feedin management, fault-ride through capacity or reactive power and voltage support. In an efficient power system, these services should be marketed both in balancing markets and contractual agreements with DSOs. Further progress is needed in particular with a view to achieving better liquidity and integration of intraday and balancing markets. These short-term markets are crucial as variable renewable energy sources take a more important role in the power mix. Products and services should be re-defined to improve the granularity of these markets and enable the sale of different system services that solar power and other renewables, but also storage and demand participation can provide. Today, decentralised and aggregated producers and consumers are often excluded from participating in balancing and ancillary services markets by definition. In some markets, decentralised renewable energy generators also have to struggle with balancing responsibilities that do not take into account the intrinsic characteristics of the renewable energy technologies and market access fees that effectively discriminate against smaller players. Alongside the trade in the different market places, the relation between power generators and consumers with the system operators should be considered. For example, solar power is able to provide system services to Distribution System Operators, which would help avoid more expensive investments 8

9 in grid capacity. Today, many of the regulated system operators are not remunerated for making use of such system services, but are incentivised to choose the more expensive option of building new grid capacity instead. To overcome existing hurdles and barriers, the following steps should be taken as a matter of urgency: An enhanced enforcement of the Target Model with additional measures to improve the liquidity of intraday and balancing markets; Where markets are not liquid or products have low granularity, special temporary conditions should be granted to renewable energy power generators and their balancing responsibilities, to guarantee a level playing field for these new market entrants that otherwise would be disadvantaged compared to conventional generators; Open access to balancing markets for all players, and the re-definition of products and services to achieve greater granularity on these markets; The removal of any disproportionate access fees or regulatory hurdles to power markets for decentralised generators and consumers; The refinement of the incentive framework for regulated system operators to allow for the best use of innovative options, such as the provision of system services by solar power generators. The ongoing market adjustments are important, but a level playing field takes further steps b) Thinking beyond capacity mechanisms The challenge of lacking investment signals in the power market has led to a discussion about capacity mechanisms in many European countries. The objectives of such markets often differ between securing additional remuneration of power plant operators, ensuring long-term resource adequacy or addressing short term security of supply issues. Irrespective of the design, any capacity mechanism is an intervention in the market. If badly designed, such mechanisms can lead to lock-in effects and support some technologies, whilst excluding others. This is why a thorough analysis is important to understand if intervention in the form of capacity or other capability mechanisms is really needed. SolarPower Europe therefore supports an introduction of a harmonised methodology to assess power system adequacy in a comprehensive and regional manner. In any case, market signals should have first priority, and intervention should be taken only in case it is found to be inevitable to maintain a secure power system and drive innovation. Any mechanism should be reversible, interfere with the market as little as possible. Unfortunately, many of the mechanisms discussed today, take a very narrow focus on so-called firm capacity only, excluding many more innovative solutions. At the same time, market signals for innovation could be diluted, if capacity supported by a capacity mechanisms also bids into the regular power market. If badly designed, capacity mechanisms thus lead to a lock-in and could hamper, rather than facilitate the transition towards a competitive and secure energy system. In fact, whilst providing financial support for some of the generators that are included in the mechanism, other solutions, including renewable power generation, would have a further increased challenge of recovering their cost. 9

10 If a mechanism is considered necessary for security of supply reasons, it should interfere with the market as little as possible, while being open to all capability options, including storage and demand response. It can also be expected that the market naturally develops solutions based on demand and supply. For example, supply options could provide for the necessary security of supply and protection from price spikes for consumers, whilst giving an extra revenue to suppliers of flexibility. The possibilities of such solutions and pricing mechanisms should be further explored, in order to achieve a balanced and favourable investment climate in Europe s energy markets. A badly designed capacity mechanism could throw back the energy transition by decades. A well-designed approach, if needed, would look beyond the narrow concept of capacity. c) Putting in place an adequate CO2 price and providing the framework conditions for renewable energy investments Renewable energy investments require stable investment conditions. Today, these conditions are not given in the open market for variable renewables, despite their cost-competitiveness. This is mainly driven by the fact that power market prices are volatile and decrease, when wind or solar power produce electricity cheaply. This effect is enhanced further by the surplus of must-run capacity in the electricity system. A flexible power system where storage and demand make the best use of power when it is cheaply available, would help balance this price effect. The market-competitiveness of renewable energy sources will improve also, if a considerably strengthened Emissions Trading Scheme adequately reflects power prices to reflect the true cost of CO2 emissions. Until this is achieved, however, renewable energy sources will depend on a reliable regulatory framework to achieve Europe s binding targets. The central element of this framework would be the Renewable Energy Directive until 2020 and its revision for the time after It should provide a balance between risk exposure and drive for innovation on the one hand, and predictability and stability on the other. The latter is critical to minimise the cost of capital and thus make the energy transition cheaper. Different possibilities exist to achieve this and depend also on the different systems and sizes. For small-scale renewable energy generation, the self-consumption by so-called residential or industrial prosumers, means that power is used directly at the point and time of production. This approach is already economically viable in several European countries today, benefitting both the prosumers who are saving on their electricity bills, as well as the system that is benefiting from reduced pressure on the networks and the use of possible system services. But reliable framework conditions are needed to prevent unjustified taxes and to give visibility and regulatory certainty for a fair distribution of grid charges that reflect the impact that a prosumer has on the grid. The right to self-consumption needs to be complemented with the possibility for renewable generators to sell their surplus electricity into the system at adequate prices and also provide system services to the market where appropriate. 10

11 For larger installations, the European Commission s State Aid Guidelines have identified tenders for renewable energy premiums as a main framework for investments. Best practices for tendering have yet to be tested and identified, and different parameters may be necessary for different technologies and sizes of installations. However, in principle and depending on the conditions, many tendering approaches also on regional scale can provide a competitive manner of giving a secure investment framework for renewable installations over 1MW, whilst leading them towards the electricity market. The figure illustrates how solar investment costs increase with different rates of capital costs. The framework conditions for renewables should ensure a balance between effective market signals and sufficient certainty for investors to reduce risk and keep the costs low. Source: International Energy Agency, Technology Roadmap Solar Photovoltaic Energy, 2014 The regulatory framework for renewables must enable long-term investments for the different technology segments. 11

12 Conclusion An energy system in which variable renewable energy sources play an increasingly important role is not only possible, but it is also economically attractive. Such a system would combine cost-effective power supplies from solar and wind power with the use of various flexibility options across the whole energy system, making the best use of electricity when it is cheaply available. A smart energy system would integrate supply and demand in electricity, heating and transport in order to secure supplies and achieve a natural balancing effect on power prices. 1 Photovoltaic Power Plant 2 Wind Farm 3 Hydro Electric Power Plant 4 Energy Self-sufficient Family Home 5 Communal Storage 6 Pumped Storage Hydro Power 7 Central Electrolysis/Methanation Station 8 Hydrogen Filling Station 9 Gas-fired Power Station 10 Energy Self-sufficient Telecom Station 11 Green Intralogistics Source: Fronius SolarPower Europe believes that a determined strategy and regulatory adaptations could achieve a flexible and competitive energy market by 2025, making solar photovoltaic electricity fully competitive without the need for specific framework conditions. In a fair and flexible energy market, solar power can compete without a specific investment framework. With a determined strategy, Europe could achieve this by

13 Paper developed by the SolarPower Europe Strategy Committee: Chair: Simone Diodato Antonelli Vice-Chairs: Andreas Wade, Wolfgang Storm Contact in the SolarPower Europe team: Frauke Thies Chief Policy Officer 13

14 SolarPower Europe Rue d Arlon B-1040 Brussels Belgium Tel.: Fax: www. solarpowereurope.org

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