Security of supply

Secure, uninterrupted energy supply

Security and quality of supply have remained top priorities since electricity market liberalisation. International conferences on European energy market liberalisation regularly discuss liberalisation’s impact on supply security, and how to maintain secure supplies in the long term.

Definition

Apart from the safeguarding of supplies, the holdall term "security of supply" includes supply quality, which in turn comprises supply reliability, power quality, operational security of supply and commercial or service quality.
Components of security and quality of supply
Abb 1: Components of security and quality of supply

 

A serious discussion of security of supply calls for a generally accepted definition of the term. The European Commission, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the European Parliament have differing definitions which reflect their priorities. E-Control employs the following definition:

"Security of supply means that electricity consumers are able to obtain electricity of defined quality when they need it, at cost-reflective and transparent prices."

This implies that supply security and quality have two components of equal importance: physical availability of electricity in sufficient quantities at all times, and prices that are affordable for consumers. Since energy prices are pivotal to economic growth and industrial competitiveness, they are closely linked to overall prosperity.

Risks

Supply security and quality can be exposed to technical, economic, political and environmental risks.
 
  • Technical risks: risks arising from inadequate investment in electrical plants and leading to their being in poor condition or unavailable.
  • Economic risks: risks arising from imbalances of supply and demand due to lack of investment or underdeveloped trading activity.
  • Political risks: risks arising from political tensions with primary energy producing countries and shortcomings of regulatory systems.
  • Environmental risks: potential damage from accidents or environmental pollution (tanker accidents, terrorist attacks, nuclear accidents, etc.)

Legal basis

The Elektrizitätswirtschafts- und -organisationgesetz (Electricity Act) contains provisions, under items 1 and 4 of section 4, calling for the provision of electricity of high quality at reasonable prices to the Austrian people and industry, and the maintenance of security of supply. There are similar provisions in the provincial implementing legislation.

Section 27(2) Energielenkungsgesetz (Energy Intervention Powers Act) 2012 as amended in 2013 charges E-Control with monitoring the security of electricity supply with a view to preparing intervention measures.

E-Control’s tasks in security of supply

E-Control carries out annual supply reliability surveys in cooperation with the electricity industry. The Energy Intervention Powers Act requires us to prepare annual ten-year supply forecasts. These are based on demand estimates and existing generating capacity.

E-Control’s contribution to security of supply

  • Long-term projections
  • Regular market monitoring pursuant to Article 4 Directive 2003/54/EC
  • Monitoring of unbundling with a view to ensuring that adequate levels of investment are maintained
  • Monitoring of supply reliability (outage and disturbance statistics)
  • Monitoring of power quality (feasibility study on a nationwide power quality (PQ) monitoring system in Austria, available from our German pages)
  • Expert cooperation on the formulation of joint action plans at national and international level
  • Active coordinating role in the development of emergency preparedness measures under the Energy Intervention Powers Act