Too many obstacles still undermine the potential of digital energy systems. Smarter solutions are difficult to put into practice, especially due to heavy administrative procedures, lack of effective incentives, and the inflexibility of the transmission and distribution network owing to underinvestment in energy infrastructure.

These are the main conclusions reached in the EESC opinion "Digitalising the energy system – EU Action Plan".

The opinion was drawn up by the rapporteur Thomas Kattnig and co-rapporteur Zsolt Kükedi and adopted at the March plenary session.

Overall, the EESC backs the objectives and most of the measures proposed in the European Commission's action plan. However, in the EESC's view, the Commission fails to integrate it into the general energy policy and creates a silo approach. The digitalisation of the energy system must lead to cooperative solutions where users have incentives to participate in the digitalised energy system.

In the future design of energy infrastructure, all consumers must be actively involved in the development of smart energy systems. "It is extremely important to strengthen the role of active consumers in digitalisation and to encourage and enable them to use as many smart solutions as possible," said Mr Kükedi.

In addition, new data-driven services and innovative technology solutions risk not being implemented fast enough owing to a lack of skilled workers and trained professionals to help deploy them. To achieve these goals, targeted labour market and education policy measures must be adopted. "We need a coordinated approach and close cooperation with the social partners. The involvement of civil society organisations is essential," said Mr Kattnig. (mp)