Potential Game Changers

On the way to reach a carbon neutral Europe, some pathways can be predicted and planned, and they are part of this Vision. However some others can only emerge later in time as a result of disruptive and highly impacting factors such as technology breakthroughs, geopolitical changes, environmental or socio-economic events, or natural resources availability. This is what we call “game changers”.

For a more comprehensive perspective of the System of Systems picture, ENTSO-E has analysed some potential technological and socio-economic game changers that could materialise and imply a change in the transition roadmap.

In principle, they can have positive, negative, or mixed consequences on the energy system as a whole. This means they can represent either an opportunity or a challenge for the roadmap. Following a comprehensive screening, eight potential factors have been prioritised and assessed.

Potential Game Changers

In terms of impact, probability and conditions for them to materialise, the more interesting are

  • Deep Digitalisation, already underway, but to an extent and impact not fully predictable for the long term.
  • Cheap Storage applications for all use cases, following significant investments and R&D efforts, if achieved will reduce the relevance of other flexibility forms and speed up the transition.

Possible game changers to follow closely:

  • Prosumers and Microgrids impacting market patterns, reducing grid flows, supporting grid operation and resilience through multi-level control philosophy.
  • Hydrogen uptake, that will need to increase in order to provide the required long duration flexibilities.

Other game changers with less probability or impact can be:

  • Superconductivity is subject to further developments and should find application in specific use cases but not chang- ing fundamentally grid planning and operation.
  • Supergrid & Imports: the concept could materialise for bulk exchanges with neighbouring countries if geopolitical conditions will allow it.
  • Nuclear fission, reducing the need for long duration flexibility, will likely remain country-dependent and not a pan-European policy; nuclear fusion is still for the very long term.
  • Carbon Capture: in the short term not mature / cost-effective technologies; in the long term not consistent with the phasing out of fossil industry processes.

Potential Game Changers