The constant supply of energy is something we often take for granted. Securing that energy supply is vital. It ensures our homes are heated – or air-conditioned – that we can phone, use lights and computers and that our hospitals, public transport and other essential services, like water distribution, function.
How does the EU contribute to assure energy security to its nearly 500 million citizens? And what happens if the security of that energy supply is threatened?
A key role is to encourage cross-border cooperation and inter-connections to make energy flow more smoothly across the whole of the EU. When there is no sun or wind to produce electricity, it is key for an EU country to be able to rely on imports of electricity produced in a neighbouring EU country.
To make the European energy system capable of dealing with possible disruptions, the EU also promotes greater diversification of sources of supply, for instance by having a wider choice of renewable energies and energy storage solutions available, so that if one source fails, another can compensate.
Similarly, maintaining the stable supply of electricity for all Europeans is no easy task, given that the EU electrical power grid is one of the largest and most complex systems in the world.
When it comes to gas, Europe relies heavily on non-EU supplies. We therefore need to minimise the risks, whether on issues surrounding the critical infrastructure physically bringing that gas into Europe, or geopolitical issues creating uncertainty surrounding our relationships with suppliers.
Adequate risk preparedness and smooth cross-border cooperation are paramount to help prevent or manage crisis situations, so that Member States are both willing and able to work together in solidarity in the event of a shortage.
One of the recently adopted legislative tools the EU has at hand is the Regulation on risk preparedness in the electricity sector. This law was adopted in 2019 as part of the Clean energy for all Europeans package and requires that Member States work to identify all possible crisis scenarios at national and regional levels that could impact their electricity supply.
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