Let's FLEX

As our energy landscape evolves, grids must accommodate renewable energy sources. Existing infrastructure plays a crucial role in fast-tracking solar connections, however, it is time for a forward-thinking approach, ensuring grid expansion is matched with robust flexibility solutions. 

As we soon enter a new EU mandate, and as we implement the EU Grids Action Plan, we need to make sure the regulatory framework is flexibility-proof – this means making sure flexibility is integrated into the network plan. For example, when we install electric devices, and when we operate them.   


What is flexibility? 


Flexibility is the ability of a consumer, electricity generator, or any other technology (like storage) to adjust how they feed in electricity to the grid,, or consume electricity from the grid in response to grid needs or solar availability. Flexibility means less investment is needed for slow-to-build grid infrastructure. We also need to focus on the efficient and smart operation of grids with smart electrified resources. 


In real life that looks like a solar power plant coupled with battery storage, or a smart charging station that charges a car when rooftop solar PV is producing abundantly.  


While we need to ramp up battery and heat storage, we should ensure flexibility from the demand side too. We can follow the example of nuclear countries who employ flexibility from the demand side to manage inherently inflexible nuclear production. Since it’s hard to switch nuclear on and off, consumers are encouraged to spread out their demand for electricity.  ‘Time-of-Use’ tariffs make it cheaper to use nuclear electricity at night, incentivising electricity consumption at night, when demand is typically lower. 


We can promote flexibility by: 


  • Mapping the EU’s flexibility needs by 2025 and developing price signal frameworks to use the flexibility potential.
  • Making it easier to hybridise solar (plus wind and/or storage) projects  
  • Making the energy system flexibility-ready by accelerating the smart building roll-out 



Why do we need flexibility? 


The way we look at energy is changing.  We’re burning less fossil fuels at centralised power plants, and relying more on clean electricity distributed from different sources, like solar and wind farms, or local rooftops.  At the same time, electricity use is increasing – like e-vehicles and heating. The share of electricity in Europe’s final energy consumption will double from 25% today to about 50% in 2040 according to the European Commission. 

Flexibility helps our grids to adapt quickly to the energy transition, while we wait for infrastructure to catch up. In simple terms, flexibility allows us to do more with less, achieving decarbonisation as efficiently as possible. 


We need to double our flexibility capacity by 2030 according to the Joint Research Center (JRC), yet we're falling short! 

EU Member States having DSO investment plans


EU Member States that set a specific goal for demand-side response


EU Member States that have defined dedicated targets for storage


SolarPower Europe’s 3 policy asks:

Integrate flexibility into the planning

Assess the needs and the potential of flexibility resources, including prosumers, in the grid planning and ensure grid operators are incentivised to do so. 


Reward flexibility

Create the right economic incentives for flexibility to play its role in renewables integration and grid operation, both now and in the long term.


Streamline grid integration

Ensuring that flexible resources and assets are seamlessly connected into the power grid system, adhering to EU-level rules and regulations to provide transparency and consistency across the industry.

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