Does US power failure have lessons for the EU’s energy policy?

The electricity blackout in the United States and Canada has raised questions about the security of the EU’s national power grids.

On 14 August, 50 million American and Canadians were left in the dark, when a massive power outage hit several big cities. The blackout has re-opened the debate on the US' energy policy. The deregulatory movement that had been started in the early 1990s is blamed by some, whereas others point to the fact that this deregulation is uncompleted and got stalled because of political fighting. There has been an underinvestment in the vulnerable electricity grid. On the other hand, some analysts point to the necessity of complementing the national power grid with a system of "distributed generation", which allows companies and consumers to produce their own power near the point of consumption. The blackout might also restart the debate on the need for energy conservation in the US.

The North-American blackout will without any doubt also raise some questions in the EU. Is the power grid in the Union as vulnerable as in the US? Will the EU's energy liberalisation lead to the same kind of chaos? How can the EU's power system be made more reliable and what about the role for renewable energy and energy conservation?

 

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