The effects of a new carbon-free, decentralised and digitalised energy supply structure on jobs and regional economies (own initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
Just a few days ahead of last December's climate summit COP24 in Poland, the European Commission published its long-term strategy "A clean planet for all" presenting its vision for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a socially-fair transition in a cost-efficient manner. While the document does not contain any new policy proposals, it provides the direction of travel of EU climate and energy policy and frames what the EU considers as its long-term contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement temperature objectives in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Digitalisation offers a wealth of new possibilities allowing people to make choices for a better life in an unprecedented way. On the other hand, the more digitalisation dominates our life, the more we can also be manipulated. The EESC calls for transparent rules to be developed, adapted and applied to these rapidly evolving technologies. Good persuasive technology should involve training, not manipulation, and comply with the principle of people's free choice, to guarantee human autonomy.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a new market design, a risk preparedness regulation and the new organisation of the energy regulators' cooperation. The Committee highlights that well-functioning electricity markets are a precondition for fulfilling the goals of the Energy Union. For the markets to function well, significant changes in the market design are necessary, particularly due to the increasing use of variable renewable electricity. The EESC appreciates the general approach of the market design package, especially the goals of putting consumers at the heart of the energy market, increasing electricity supply and strengthening regional cooperation.
The EESC takes the view that the general development of distributed prosumer energy should form an important and sustainable part of the European Union’s energy policy. Such an approach would be beneficial and might even be necessary from the point of view of energy security and in light of environmental and social concerns. In particular, the Committee points to the prosumers’ advantages of, among others, lower energy transmission costs, better use of local energy sources, and the economic and social involvement of local communities.
The EESC recognizes the importance of a new energy market design for achieving the ambitious climate-related policy goals of the European Union, most notably the expansion of renewable energy. The Committee acknowledges that many of the measures proposed by the European Commission in its Communication, such as the establishment of intraday markets or the removal of market-distorting national regulations, are steps in the right direction. However, the EESC would like the Commission to be more ambitious, in particular in terms of ensuring that energy prices become more transparent and reflect actual generation and external costs, consumers receiving adequate information and resources to become active market participants, and obstacles to market access for emerging local 'prosumers' being identified and removed.