This week saw Europe take centre stage and the much anticipated and hyped up speech from Prime Minister David Cameron (the first DC). At the same time we, as ENA, went to Brussels to address MEPs and policy makers on the importance of the role of the distribution networks in delivering Europe’s energy ambitions.
Those ambitions are shared in the UK, not because of targets, but because it’s the right thing to do and in the best interests of customers here too. We must find a way to reduce our carbon emissions and energy is one area of that. That will require more sustainable sources of energy to be utilised. In an ever fluctuating global energy market we must also find ways of being more energy secure as a country. This is also aided by increased energy security in our region, including Ireland and the rest of the EU mainland. But critically, we must do it in a way that is affordable. That is why we innovate and seek to ensure the safe, secure and essential networks we have now are maintained to meet the need of our energy future.
Leaving the political principles of Cameron’s vision for Europe aside and avoiding dissection of the many EU leaders’ ways of saying ‘sure, I suppose we’ll listen...’ we cannot ignore that we have become more connected with Europe and that more is planned. That connection is both physical (the DC interconnectors to mainland Europe) and in policies through a single EU energy market and measures that ensure we’re not the only ones working towards the tough challenges of the future.
Whatever becomes of our relationship with Europe, the practical and physical integration is unlikely to be lost. What that means for agreements that have been negotiated or for the development of further infrastructure like an EU supergrid will remain to be seen. As one MP close to the Energy Bill process put it, “of course we could negotiate our own agreements, we may just find negotiating 26 more difficult than 1.”