Working paper / Energy Law & Policy
Capacity to Compete: Recent Trends in Access Regimes in Electricity and Natural Gas Networks
Ensuring access to a truly ‘European’ energy grid for every consumer and supplier in the European Union is a core objective of the single market project. From the first wave of liberalization directives up until the ‘draft’ framework guidelines of September 2010 on capacity allocation and congestion management being prepared by ERGEG on behalf of the new Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), the objective of the access regime in both sector is similar: to creating capacity to compete. The objective of this paper is to review and compare from a legal point of view the evolution of the EU access regime in the electricity and gas sectors. We find strong similarities for two otherwise very different sectors, as well as an influence of the electricity regime on the gas regime. The sector-specific regulatory regime, supported by the use of competition law, organises a market design in both sectors based as much as possible on short-term capacity allocation with a liquid secondary trading platforms. The imposition of UIOLI mechanisms and an increased focus on firmness of capacity is certainly the way forward but implementation still is an issue. The right portfolio of capacity durations that are to be proposed by TSOs also remains an open question. The specific features of these two commodities result however in slightly different results in practice. In electricity, the development of market coupling initiatives creates new regulatory challenges but price convergence is now in sight. In gas, the progress has been slower and efficiently functioning spot markets are yet to emerge.