André Jurres

Last weekend we encountered that little events can create large changes.  In the Northern part of Germany a large cruise ship came down the river which forced the high voltage grid operator to shut down a high voltage line across the river.
This event caused an unbalance on the grid as demand and supply were not the same anymore.  As a logical consequence the grid started looking for alternative power streams across the grid.  As most national grids have cross border connections other countries felt this immediately.  Light in certain areas was automatically dimmed down to prevent national break down of the entire grids.
Looking at the response of governments and media we see a traditional reaction of “this is because of the liberalization” or “this is because we have a European grid network”.  Both reasons are not correct as the action taken by the German grid operator to shut down a high voltage line because of a passing ship have of course nothing to do with a market being open or not.  If the same grid operator would have acted in a monopoly environment the result would have been the same.  The physical flow of electricity does not think in markets but in the law of physics.
Having cross border connections as we know today is actually a consequence of this historical monopoly.  In the past national grid operators (read governments) built cross border connections in case a country would have the need for extra power or to assist in other emergencies.  As such we do not have a European high voltage grid today; I would even say we do not even have a European overlay network that can work separately from the national grids.
If we really want to prevent simple small events like in Germany this weekend to happen we have to built a new European high voltage overlay grid that is centrally managed.  This is a first step to improve quality and efficiency.
Having such a European overlay grid would enable a central party to focus on more exact proposals on how much reserve capacity we need and as important where we need it!
Besides this we need to have a more central approach for the entire energy market as only Europe is capable of making a strong enough strategy towards outside forces.  The crisis earlier this year with Russian gas has also proven this.  

The creation of a European regulator would in addition also help to work out the same rules for all countries.  
Hopefully the experts will be able the next coming days to convince political decision makers on were the focus should go to and how we can built solutions for our current and future problems.