Europe’s evolving energy marketplaces must be open – review

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A new paper argues that developing open energy marketplaces is at the centre stage of the digitalisation of Europe’s energy system.

The paper from the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation, the transmission operators’ association ENTSO-E, the innovation organisation EIT InnoEnergy and the SDA Bocconi Sustainability Lab, indicates that significant investment in distributed digital infrastructures, data spaces and enhanced connectivity is required to scale up energy services across the region’s markets.

Such scaling up of services across EU markets is imperative for the viability of the underlying platforms and services, the paper says. However, clear rules and a favourable environment are key to allow the required financing of the investments.

The paper is intended to give an update on marketplace development in Europe. It draws on input from the four organisations and workshops organised by the European Commission focussed on the needs and technologies for smart energy services, the concept of an open energy marketplace and how regulation can support its development.

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In this context, ‘marketplaces’ refer to platforms with solutions and services such as demand side flexibility to facilitate renewables integration into the grid with data, energy and transactive exchanges.

A typical example is the numerous peer-to-peer blockchain trading platforms that are being implemented.

Among the general outcomes are that the market design should be fit to send the appropriate market signals for consumers to adopt and engage with the marketplace innovations and it should foster an innovation friendly culture.

The enabling technologies should have a high level of technological readiness and be dynamically evolving, but the user experience and interoperability are key to scale-up the innovations.

Public sector participation as an active energy prosumer through publicly owned buildings and sites also could play a role in fostering open energy marketplaces.

To operationalise the activation of transitions, the paper points to the need for measures such as matchmaking to channel private finance to the required digital infrastructures and support for research and innovation activities to increase the maturity level of solutions.

Spaces where regulatory and policy experimentation can happen, such as regulatory sandboxes, also are needed. Such experimentation needs to address three layers, data exchanges and interoperable interfaces; definition of standard clauses for automated long-term contracts; and identification of potential anti-competitive behaviours.

With these, the standardisation of measures and indexes to monitor the evolution of and potential barriers caused by current market designs and financial structures are of considerable importance, the paper says.