EU Proposes Measures to Protect Against Potential Market Abuse in Energy Sector

27 Mar 2023


The European Commission (EC) has proposed new energy reforms aimed at tripling renewable energy production in the European Union (EU) by 2030. The reforms also aim to phase out natural gas use and reduce dependency on Russian resources following a period of volatility in the EU energy market. The proposed revisions will likely affect several EU legislations, including the Electricity Regulation, Regulation on Wholesale Energy Market Integrity and Transparency (REMIT), and the Electricity Directive. Here’s the complete story. 

Background of the Reform

The EU has been facing challenges in its energy and power sector, including volatile prices, supply disruptions, and market abuse. These challenges have prompted the EC to propose new measures to enhance the stability and predictability of energy costs across the EU. The proposed reforms also aim to accelerate the adoption of key technologies for decarbonization and increase energy security by promoting the use of renewable energy sources.

Incentives for Non-Fossil Energy Producers

The proposed reforms will provide incentives for non-fossil energy producers to expand their operations, including longer contracts. This move aims to encourage more investment in renewable energy and reduce the EU's reliance on fossil fuels. By promoting renewable energy, the EU seeks to increase energy security and reduce the impact of external factors such as supply disruptions or price volatility.

Phasing Out Natural Gas Use

One of the most significant proposed reforms is the phase-out of natural gas use, which still underpins much of the EU's power production. In 2021, one-third of the EU's electricity came from burning gas. The phase-out is part of the EU's efforts to accelerate decarbonization and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, a timeline has not been given for the phase-out.

Long-term Power Purchase Agreements

The EC proposes to deploy long-term power purchase agreements that allow companies to establish their own direct supplies of energy. This move is aimed at promoting the use of renewable energy and reducing dependency on external factors. Long-term agreements provide more predictability for energy producers and consumers, which can help to stabilize prices and reduce volatility.

Contracts for Difference

The EC also proposes contracts for difference to stabilize the price of electricity sold by producers, with member states obligated to channel excess revenue back to consumers. This measure aims to provide more stability for energy producers while ensuring that consumers benefit from any excess revenue generated by producers. Contracts for difference can also provide incentives for renewable energy producers to invest in new technologies and expand their operations.

Forward Contracts

In order to account for potential volatility in the energy market, the EC proposes implementing forward contracts that lock in future prices. New obligations and deadlines will also be put in place to encourage implementation. Forward contracts can provide more predictability for energy producers and consumers, which can help stabilize prices and reduce volatility.

Strengthening the Role of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators

The EC seeks to protect against potential market abuse through increased monitoring and strengthening the role of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) in investigations. This measure aims to prevent market participants from engaging in activities that could harm consumers or disrupt the energy market.

Conclusion

The proposed reforms seek to enhance the stability and predictability of energy costs across the EU while accelerating decarbonization and increasing energy security. By promoting renewable energy, the EU seeks to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed reforms also aim to protect against potential market abuse through increased monitoring and the strengthening of ACER's role in investigations. Overall, the proposed reforms could have a significant impact on the EU's energy market and contribute to the EU's efforts to achieve its net-zero emissions target by 2050. However, the reforms will need to be discussed by the European Parliament before they can be put in place.

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