Posted: 24 September 2013
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European challenge

Following his recent appointment as President of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), Nick Winser, National Grid’s Executive Director UK, talks about the organisation’s goals and challenges and some of the work National Grid is doing to help build an interconnected, low-carbon European energy network.

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European challenge

European challenge

Nick Winser, National Grid’s Executive Director – UK and President of ENTSO-E.

"The energy mix across Europe is facing major changes and we must focus on our role to keep the lights on safely and efficiently."

Nick Winser, National Grid’s Executive Director – UK and President of ENTSO-E


ENTSO-E represents 41 Transmission Systems Operators


Some eighty years ago, the UK began the challenge of providing a safe and reliable electricity supply by developing an interconnected national grid. On a European scale, we have a similar challenge – connecting electricity transmission networks which were built independently from each other.


The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) was created in 2009. It brought together 41 Transmission System Operators (TSOs) across 34 countries with the vision of becoming and remaining the focal point for all European, technical, market and policy issues related to TSOs.

Today, ENTSO-E – which I have the privilege of leading for the next two years – is at the forefront of energy policy in Europe in many different ways.

Nick Winser, National Grid’s Executive Director – UK and President of ENTSO-E.

Nick Winser, National Grid’s Executive Director – UK and President of ENTSO-E.

The organisation is responsible for developing network codes – the set of common rules that will enable an efficient internal electricity market to function across Europe.

ENTSO-E released its first official ten-year network development plan on 5 July 2012, setting out the key investments that are required in electricity transmission systems on a pan-European basis. This is a major challenge as Europe needs significant investments in energy infrastructure to connect new sources of energy to the grid and build an interconnected energy network.

Connecting Europe

For our part, National Grid is exploring and leading the way on the development of new, innovative technologies that will help us design the best, most affordable, long-term solutions for consumers and the environment.

We’re connecting energy systems in partnerships across Europe, making our energy supply at home more secure and using our skills and expertise to help other countries build energy systems for the future.

Our operational businesses include a number of interconnectors – for example the Interconnexion France-Angleterre, between Great Britain and France, and BritNed, which runs beneath the North Sea between the Isle of Grain in Kent and Maasvlakte, near Rotterdam. Both of these are high voltage direct current (HVDC) links.  We are also exploring the opportunity for further interconnectors – between Great Britain and Norway, Belgium, and Ireland for example.

In future articles in Connecting we’ll talk more about these projects, as well as work we’re doing to adopt a low-carbon business model and supporting the development of low-carbon energy markets.

Meeting Europe’s energy challenges

There has never been a more exciting time for Europe’s energy policy.

As the EU institutions are currently considering the establishment of a clear and stable energy policy framework for 2030, the work of ENTS0-E and National Grid is helping Europe meet its objectives of ensuring and enhancing security of supply; developing competitive markets that ensure affordable energy supply; and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

In all of this, we must ensure that developments take account of the economic challenges being faced by the European Union. Achieving these objectives will not only benefit those of us in the energy sector, but also the economy and indeed every person living in Europe, now and in the future.

The critically important nature of this work inevitably brings with it increased attention from stakeholders – be they EU institutions, the regulators or the other industry players. In their recent high-level meeting in May, the EU Heads of State clearly highlighted the completion of a “fully functioning and interconnected internal energy market” as a major priority. Energy is also a hot topic for European citizens and could well be a top issue in the upcoming European elections next year. Ensuring strong, mutually beneficial relationships with key stakeholders has always been a major part of ENTSO-E’s and National Grid’s focus.

For its part, the challenge that ENTSO-E will face over the coming years will be to sustain and, even more, enhance its authority, credibility and position as an independent expert on the future of energy policy.

The challenge for all the countries in Europe, meanwhile, is to create the right investment framework, so that an interconnected, pan-European network is a viable solution to meet the energy needs of the decades to come.

Through the work of organisations like National Grid and ENTSO-E, I believe we are more than capable of meeting the challenges ahead.

ENTSO-E: Factfile

Countries covered: 34
Main areas of activity: system operation, system development, market development and research
Generation mix in ENTSO-E member TSOs’ countries: fossil fuels 46.1%, thermal nuclear 25.6%, hydraulic generation 16.7%, other renewable generation 11.2%, non-identifiable generation 0.3%
2nd official Ten-year Network Development Plan expected to be released to stakeholders: March 2014
Network codes to be developed by 2014: Nine (to date, three have received recommendations from ACER to the European Commission to be adopted).

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