Sector integration means linking the various energy carriers - electricity, heat, cold, gas, solid and liquid fuels - with each other and with the end-use sectors, such as buildings, transport or industry.
Linking sectors will allow the optimisation of the energy system as a whole, rather than decarbonising and making separate efficiency gains in each sector independently. The new EU strategy will involve various existing and emerging technologies, processes and business models, such as ICT and digitalisation, smart grids and meters and flexibility markets.
The electrification of transport is a good example of the potential for integration. At present, we know that electric vehicles connect the transport and power sectors, but also buildings, where the charging points are often located. Currently there is only a very limited interface between these three sectors.
Barriers and objectives
Several barriers still prevent energy system integration from fully materialising and allowing citizens and industry to embrace cleaner energy alternatives.
The cross-sectoral links in the EU’s current system need to become stronger in order to create the conditions, which enable and encourage further integration, where different energy carriers can compete on a level playing field and use every opportunity to reduce emissions.
Better integration of the energy system is also necessary to achieve a cost-effective decarbonisation of the EU economies. It will build a more flexible, more decentralised and digital energy system, in which consumers are empowered to make their energy choices.
System integration will likely follow different pathways in each EU country, depending on their respective starting points and policy choices. Some of these are already reflected in the national energy and climate plans 2021-2030.
Process towards a new strategy
As part of the European Green Deal, in order to encourage this smart sector integration, the Commission presented an EU strategy for energy system integration on 8 July 2020.
The energy system integration will be facilitated by the correct and timely implementation of the eight legal acts of the Clean energy for all Europeans package, adopted in 2018-2019.
The new EU strategy - in synergy with a new dedicated strategy on hydrogen in Europe - will lay the foundation for the decarbonised European energy system of the future.
To prepare the strategy, the Commission invited stakeholders and citizens to provide feedback on the strategy roadmap, through direct or online contributions, which closed on 8 June 2020.
- Factsheet: Decarbonising our energy system to meet our climate goals (July 2021)
- EU Strategy for Energy System Integration COM(2020) 299 final, July 2020)
- Factsheet: EU Energy System Integration Strategy (July 2020)
- Q&A: Making our energy system fit for our climate targets (July 2021)
- Powering a climate-neutral economy: Commission sets out plans for the energy system of the future and clean hydrogen (Press release 8 July 2020)
- Q&A: An EU Strategy for Energy System Integration (July 2020)
- Video: EU Energy System Integration Strategy (July 2020)
- A European Green Deal
- EU 2050 long term strategy
- Clean energy for all Europeans package