Study proves great underutilization of existing cross-border electricity infrastructure for trading purposes and energy transition

15 February 2021

Better use of existing cross-border electricity interconnectors between Energy Community Contracting Parties and with EU Member States could boost competition to the benefit of consumers and help support integration of renewables and decarbonisation of the electricity sector.  This is the conclusion of a study undertaken by experts of the Energy Community Secretariat, which assessed the Contracting Parties’ electricity interconnectivity level with respect to EU 2020 and 2030 interconnectivity criteria and usage of existing interconnectors.

The study concluded that the transmission networks of the Contracting Parties are more strongly interconnected than those of the majority of EU Member States today, in relation to the peak load and installed generation capacity. Eight out of nine Contracting Parties comfortably satisfy the 10 % EU interconnectivity target of net transfer capacity with respect to total production capacity. Only Ukraine is close to or below this threshold because it is situated in between two synchronous zones (ENTSO-E and IPS/UPS).

However, the study uncovered low net transfer capacities (NTC) at the borders, i.e. the levels of cross-border capacity given to market participants for commercial use without jeopardizing the security of supply. This could mean that the interconnectors are so far not being fully exploited, leading to restricted market activities and welfare loss. Compared to the obligatory EU target of 70% of cross-border capacity available for trade, this percentage in the Energy Community is below 30% on average.

The Secretariat advises the transmission system operators as well as the national regulatory and competition authorities to increase their focus on the efficient usage of existing cross-border interconnectors. New cross-border projects should only be financed if existing interconnectors would not be capable of fully supporting future market activities, assuming that they are used efficiently, meaning up to their nominal transmission capacity and taking into account security criteria. Moreover, new cross-border projects should be implemented only if the potential benefits outweigh the costs. Cheapest options, including reinforcements of internal networks, should be considered first.

The study’s results and recommendations will be discussed at a stakeholder workshop on interconnectivity hosted by the Secretariat on 18 February.