Eight large European electricity transmission network operators have launched a joint initiative to help reduce emissions. Germany (Amprion), Austria (APG), Belgium (Elia Group), Spain (REE), France (RTE), Italy (Terna), the Netherlands (Tennet) and Switzerland (Swissgrid) have come together to form a group whose purpose is to analyze in depth how its activities contribute to decarbonisation and develop ways to support the electricity system with the goal of making it carbon neutral.
In line with the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the European Green Deal and the “Fit for 55” legislative package that develops it, the EU and Switzerland have committed to achieving carbon neutrality, and in this sense, the managers They can contribute to the mitigation of global warming through their activities such as guaranteeing a safe electricity supply with the best quality levels.
The TSOs have to manage an increasingly complex and digitized electricity system as Europe, that is, implement an energy model without emissions that stars the participation of renewable energy sources of great variability and the growing uses of electricity, where the Consumers are becoming protagonists with the ability to actively participate in its achievement.
For this reason, in the long term, the widespread adoption of new assets such as electric vehicles and heat pumps is expected, which will make electricity a key element for decarbonisation due to greater efficiency in end uses and integration of renewables.
TSOs monitor their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with international standards on this type of emissions and apply measures to reduce them by using less polluting alternatives; the efficient development of its infrastructures to limit network losses; the implementation of energy efficiency measures; the application of green procurement procedures, and the adoption of circular economy approaches.
The participation of renewable energy sources is increasing and the consumer is now more empowered to assume a much more active role in the electricity system. By occupying a unique role in the energy value chain, TSOs are enabling the energy transition through a wide range of activities, from expanding their networks to facilitating integration into the renewable energy system, from new energy and flexible asset uses. Alongside these activities, TSOs are also facilitating developments in market design and regulatory frameworks, incorporating digitization into their networks, and investing in innovation.
Given the essential nature of their activities, the evaluation of TSOs performance in terms of sustainability and decarbonisation should not be limited to evaluations of their carbon footprint.
Furthermore, to reinforce their work, TSOs should be explicitly recognized at European level as facilitators of the energy transition and their activities should be clearly mentioned in GHG emissions inventories under a framework of common assessment and monitoring procedures, together with the GHG emission sources already associated with its carbon footprint.