Event detail
6 November 2019
Mediterranean Regulators Lead Discussions on the Future of Gas and Renewable Energy Developments
On 6 November in Brussels, MEDREG held its energy Forum entitled “At the Forefront of Pro-active and Resilient Energy Regulation”, which saw the participation of nearly 80 key energy experts who exchanged on gas and renewable energy developments in the Mediterranean region through a pro-active dialogue.

Representatives of international institutions, regulators, industry and academia underlined the fundamental synergy between gas and renewable energies to shape the developments of Mediterranean energy markets and the energy trade routes, agreeing on the importance of a fruitful collaboration between Regulatory Authorities to ensure the creation of a regulatory framework able to accommodate the changes to come.

Mrs. Henrike Trautmann, Head of Regional Programs Neighbourhood South from the European Commission, stated that “regional dialogue is the raison d’être for EU policy support”, underlying the “vital role of MEDREG as a technical and functional cooperation platform that manages to overcome the political differences affecting the region”.

Decarbonisation, digitisation, innovation and new technologies emerged as crucial elements from the panellists’ exchanges, claiming that they require a new dynamic conception of the energy markets, only implementable through a more flexible regulatory architecture.

Meanwhile, panellists called for additional interconnections as a way to increase the flexibility of the energy system, the integration of variable renewables and foster market integration and energy security. There are currently 82 power interconnections between the EU and ten of its neighbouring countries, only two of which currently serve as the sole link connecting Europe to North Africa, between Spain and Morocco, with a combined Nominal Capacity of 1.4 GW.

As for the role of gas, speakers like IRENA stated that it is a fundamental energy source for decarbonising critical sectors such as the cement industry and the shipping sector, while regulators urged to move towards the creation of a common regional gas network code, using the collaboration platform offered by MEDREG.

In addition, the role of consumers as protagonists of the electricity market was emphasised by Mr. Stefano Besseghini, President of the Italian Regulator ARERA, stressing that widespread supply of information is the fundamental condition for greater consumers’ participation and empowerment to make enlightened choices.

From an industry perspective, Laurent Théry, International Director of GRTgaz, stressed that regulatory harmonisation and convergence of standards are the primary condition for encouraging investment in the gas sector, while energy transition must be affordable and cost-effective. The example of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TAP) megaproject, that will bring 31 bcm/y from Turkey to Italy by 2026, clearly expresses the link between regulatory solidity and investment security.

From a European perspective, to achieve the Union target of 32% renewables cost-effectively, the Renewable Energy Directive fosters cooperation between the Member States and third countries. Ms. Jenny Winkler from the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research illustrated how Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries (SEMCs) can actively contribute and collaborate with EU countries to achieving EU energy transition future targets. Cooperation options are explored in a briefing paper titled “Clean Energy for all Europeans Package: Implications and Opportunities for the Mediterranean”, focusing in the area of deploying renewable energy sources, interconnections and electricity market integration.

Aware of the profound differences existing between the northern and southern shores of the basin, MEDREG President, Ms. Gülefsan Demirbas recalled that the primary aim of the organisation is to create a shared and concrete regulatory framework between the members, inspiring technical and institutional cooperation in the energy sector, fostering transfer of knowledge and best practices.

The Forum underlined the lively discussions going on today in the Mediterranean on the evolution of the national and regional energy sector and showed how MEDREG favours a regulatory fertilisation process in this strategic sector among the regional regulatory agencies. Focusing on the regional regulatory harmonisation and collaborative actions between the EU and Southern countries, Mediterranean regulators will work to continue providing the added value of sound regulation to the regional energy policy debate.

Photo: Michel Petillo / REVOLVE for all photos
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