Few miles away from Adriatic sea in the beautiful and mountainous landscape of Abruzzo in April, sun is shining to the miles wide solar parks, which are producing at their peak production rate, meaning 1 000 of MWh a day just from small geographical area. Already photovoltaic (PV) power plants produce above 10% of the Italian electricity consumption.
At the same time in Norway huge cabling ships are starting to lay down the world’s longest undersea power cable, 450km long, from Kvilldal southern Norway to Blyth, Northumberland UK. This line will bring 1000 MW’s of renewable hydro-power to UK and at the same time allow UK to export surplus of wind energy back to Scandinavia.
These examples are just a part of a quiet revolution of energy markets across Europe. The locally produced renewable energy together with EU-wide strengthened power grid is gradually developing, using power interconnectors to trade surplus energy across continental electricity networks, allowing big wind power or hydro producers in northern Europe to trade electricity with large solar energy generators in southern Europe. There are also more ambitious plans and projects to be planned in the future to connect continental grid to Iceland’s huge supply of geothermal and hydroelectric power using a subsea cable.
The distributed renewable energy production, especially sun in Southern Europe, together with continental power grid give the traditionally weak Southern-Europe’s power network a more reliable power supplies, helping to smooth down the intermittent power produced from renewables. Moreover, it provides Europe a more secure power source than the outdated nuclear, coal and oil-powered power plants, which need to be gradually shut down. Today, closing of these plants is not just environmentally justified; also the economics of these plants is in question when renewable installations have reached their economics of scale.
Theoretically, this slow renewable revolution could bring the energy prices down but at the same time, there still remains need to balance the network and finance the costs related to the increased electricity transfer capacity. As today, there are still some regulatory and national burdens for wholesale electricity transfer across Europe. Thanks to the EU, we are in a good track for a creation of Pan-European electricity markets and for Europe-wide electricity transmission rights.