Dieter Helm at Wenkheim on European Energy Union

On April 13, Webster Vienna had the extraordinary pleasure of hosting a lecture by Dr. Dieter Helm, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford and Special Advisor to the European Commissioner for Energy.

Prof. Helm was welcomed by Dr. Arthur Hirsh, Director of Webster Vienna, Private University. The event was organized by the International Relations Department and moderated by Dr. Samuel R. Schubert.

In his presentation, the author of The Carbon Crunch and Natural Capital mainly addressed five questions about the European Energy Union:

First, why is it particularly important now? Aside from the Russian threat to security, there are also substantial threats to the internal energy market. The EU is furthermore facing falling commodity prices and weakness of its own 2030 carbon targets.

Second, what does it mean to have an energy union? Dr. Helm mainly pointed towards harmonized renewable markets, capacity markets, governance issues and allowing voluntary purchase via gas pooling.

The third question addressed the underlying rationale of a European Energy Union, i.e. the creation of a single buyer, an internal energy market with capacity markets and integration of renewables.

Fourth, what would be the benefits of the energy union? Dr. Helm explained that the Energy Union would mean the creation of a truly European grid as well as increasing capacity margins, competition and energy security. Furthermore, the Energy Union would lower the costs of achieving the carbon targets.

Fifth and finally, Dr. Helm asked what the next steps in EU energy policy should be. He stressed that the EU is in urgent need of a top-down network plan as well as a major expansion of interconnections. It is also necessary to harmonize capacity and renewable mechanisms, establish a floor European carbon price. Furthermore, the EU has to make a turn from coal towards gas and create a large-scale research and development program. With regards to Russia, the EU should implement a rigorous competition policy to Gazprom.

The lecture was followed by a question and answer session.

Find more information on Prof. Helm on his website.