Is the European Power Sector ‘Uninvestable’?

, SEE Energy News

Advisory Board members of POWER-GEN Europe 2013 discuss how to unlock investment in European power and promote policy harmonisation at EU level   

The strategic track of the conference at this year’s POWER-GEN Europe conference, being held 4-6 June 2013 in Vienna, is to focus on the challenges driving the debate for the European power industry as it looks to attract investment for the build-out of new infrastructure and stay competitive on the global stage. Members of POWER-GEN Europe’s Advisory Board have identified several commercial, physical, and political issues impacting on the power industry’s ability to meet these strategic goals, and made a number of recommendations on the critical next steps.

According to ENEL president Fulvio Conti, market uncertainty and lack of coherence between national and European policy are blocking access to capital in Europe, such that he recently described the power sector as being ‘uninvestable’. During a recent roundtable, Thomas Dalsgaard (Dong Energy), Dr. Jacob Klimstra (Consultant), Nicolas Kraus (European Power Plant Suppliers Association – EPPSA), and Peter Ramm (Advanced Power Ltd), discussed these factors and concluded that slow progress is being made towards the creation of an integrated European electricity market, but current regulatory signals given by European and national policymakers make it difficult for investors to see a long-term return on investment, which is causing the market to stagnate.

“Given the lack of regulatory and market certainty, it’s no surprise that investors remain reticent,” said POWER-GEN Europe Conference director Nigel Blackaby. “However, our Advisory Board members agree that a much more proactive and decision oriented approach at EU level would trigger the necessary investments in interconnectors and related infrastructure. A well functioning internal market would also be vital to Europe’s competitiveness, as globalisation dictates that multi-national firms will locate their sites where the workforce is best educated, and where labour and power costs are most competitive.”

Up to €1trn is required in the run up to 2020 for expansion of renewables capacity, according to ENEL’s Fulvio Conti, for construction of new plants to back up renewable generation, and for further development and deployment of innovative technologies such as smart grids and electricity storage. However, investment on average is set to grow by just 0-2% per annum according to latest available figures from Eurelectric (the Union of the Electricity Industry), which means the power industry needs to act now if it is to achieve its long-term goals.

Now in its 21st year, POWER-GEN Europe, co-located with Renewable Energy World Europe, offers the largest and most comprehensive conference and exhibition for the European electricity and power technology sectors. The combination of conferences and exhibitions across the entire spectrum of power generation is unique and is serving the vital move towards integrating the traditional fossil fuel and fast-growing renewable generation sectors. The show is being held from the 4th to the 6th of June 2013, and is taking place at Messe Wien, Vienna, Austria.

For more information, please visit the POWER-GEN Europe website at