Power system resilience is the ability to withstand and mitigate the extent, severity and duration of system degradation following an impactful event. Transitioning from a system based on dispatchable generation towards a system based on mostly weather-dependent generation, should structurally decrease the resilience of the whole system. In addition, ensuring power system resilience will be more challenging due to more frequent and extreme climate events, geopolitical uncertainties, and increased cyber-security risks.
However, a number of solutions can be developed, as previously outlined in our ‘Building Blocks’, contributing to maintain a high-level of resilience of the system:
- Resilience through flexibilities: all the sources of system flexibility shown in this report will improve the resilience in different time scales and they should be able to compensate for the loss of dispatchable power plants.
- Resilience through the operation of the future grids: the interoperability and increased interconnection with distribution and other energy sectors will allow the sharing and activation of resources through the whole System of Systems. Moreover, increased cross-sector observability and awareness will provide better threat and risk assessments, also taking into account the advances in information technologies and automation.
- Resilience through infrastructure and investments: the evolution of planning methodologies allows for a more accurate resilience assessment and cost-benefit analysis, for all future investments in generation, grid and flexibilities.
- Resilience through market design: when the market rules are designed to allocate value to what and when will be most needed, resilience could be factored in to give incentives to market actors that increase the resilience and robustness of the system.
These combined solutions should be able to provide an adequate level of resilience for the future system.
Energy prices for final consumers are of fundamental importance for competitiveness and fairness of the European economy, and a key question for this work is if the future energy system will be more or less expensive for the European society.
It is clear that there are factors of the future system that could increase the costs for society. Mainly the weather dependency of most generation sources will require significant infrastructure investments in generation, grids and accompanying flexibility sources.
At the same time, the ultimate independence from fossil fuels should be a structural factor driving down the overall cost of the whole system. In addition, the most promising factors to reduce energy costs will be increased energy efficiency, standardisation, harmonisation and coordination, and of course innovation.
The measures and developments proposed in this Vision will pave a cost-efficient way to a carbon-neutral energy system in the Europe. At the same time, we recognise that the transition may be challenging and include periods with prices that are higher than desirable.
Sustainability is one of the fundamental driving forces of the energy system transformation. First and foremost to achieve carbon-neutrality, but also to promote all other environmental dimensions necessary to preserve natural resources for future generations.
Some intrinsic aspects of the transition to a carbon neutral economy (such as the increase in use of land and sea, extraction of raw materials) may actually challenge sustainability – and thus need to be properly addressed and mitigated. Other aspects can be considered as risks to sustainability (development of biofuels, or misaligned development of market design and energy infrastructure); these should be avoided or at least minimised.
On the other hand, we believe that in implementing the transition to a carbon neutral economy we have at our disposal many solutions and tools to improve the sustainability of the energy system and of our society as a whole. These include accelerating the electrification of the economy, increasing energy efficiency, introducing recycling and circular economy requirements, including nature-inclusive design principles in infrastructure projects, and incorporating environment externalities in market design and procurement strategies.