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Key mandates supporting the future of Europe’s energy system

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Renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and self-consumption, etc. The energy transition is remodelling Europe’s electricity landscape. Transmission system operators are supporting these changes which further increase the need for exchange and coordination between the continent’s operators. In the leading position of Europe’s biggest high and ultra-high voltage electricity network, RTE plays a pivotal role in Europe’s energy policy.

Since the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), seeking to maintain a secure supply of coal and steel, up until the publication of the Green Deal in late 2019, seeking to achieve the continent’s carbon neutrality by 2050, energy has always lain at the heart of European policy. Among its primary concerns is the desire to establish a single electricity market that is open to competition in order to maintain security of supply, offer the best prices and protect the environment. 

RTE is the outcome of this European ambition, with the separation of power generation and transmission being one of the first steps (1996) taken by the European Commission to establish an internal energy market. The goal: providing all energy producers with non-discriminatory and transparent access to the network.

Transmission systems at the heart of Europe’s energy system

Ever since then, European institutions have given transmission system operators (TSOs) an increasingly bigger role in the establishment of this single market. The establishment of a European network development plan and the preparation of a European R&D roadmap were assigned to RTE and its European counterparts via ENTSO-E (European network of transmission system operators for electricity). They are building a “physical” European power system by developing cross-border connections and are supporting exchanges via a coupling mechanism. A key role confirmed by the “Clean Energy for all Europeans” package (2016-2019), which has reinforced the importance of regional cooperation between TSOs, based on the model of the Coreso centre, jointly founded by RTE.

At the crossroads of Western Europe’s transmission systems, RTE plays a pivotal role by involving all of its specialist groups in:

  • The construction and strengthening of cross-border connections. Because they facilitate the exchange of electricity between countries, cross-border connections are the backbone of Europe’s energy policy. Leader of France’s power system, RTE is building new interconnectors to consolidate its capacities for exchange with its neighbours.
  • Coordination with other TSOs in order to operate this European network. The harmonisation of TSO standards in the different countries by setting common rules determined by network codes and developed within ENTSOE under the supervision of regulators enhances security of supply while maximising the potential of interconnections. Coreso, the technical coordination centre jointly founded by RTE, provides TSOs with technical support by giving them a supranational overview, both for the purpose of conducting security analyses to anticipate real-time conditions and for calculating interconnection capacities as reliably as possible. 
  • The building of a European electricity market. These physical connections have resulted in the establishment of European electricity stock exchanges thanks to the coupling of the different markets. Working closely together with other TSOs, regulators and electricity stock exchanges, RTE helps to expedite the coupling of markets and adopt common governance rules thanks to market codes. RTE plays a leading role in the establishment of these access mechanisms.
  • The development of R&D projects on a Europe-wide scale. Acknowledged in Europe for its innovative talents and R&D capabilities, RTE plays a leading role in the development of European research projects overseen by the European Commission and by ENTSO-E’s R&D committee.

More than 400 interconnections link European countries, providing real electrical solidarity between the countries of continental Europe.
These cross-continental interconnections, which RTE manages in real time, day in and day out, makes it possible to supply power on demand to more than 500 million people in Europe.