Pentalateral Energy Forum
Seven European countries simulate major electricity crisis to test their preparedness
On May 24, Member countries of the so-called Pentalateral Energy Forum participatedin the ‘Black-out 22 exercise’, a major electricity crisis exercise, to reinforce communications flows between the neighboring countries. The Penta Forum, a regional cooperation framework steered by energy ministers from the Benelux nations (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland stimulates energy cooperation inside Europe since 2005.
This simulation exercise was set up by France as a national crisis exercise. It involved all French ministries under the coordination of the General Secretariat for national defense and security (Prime Minister’s directorate). For the first time in the electricity sector, such exercise was enlarged with other members of the Penta Forum.
It was the first regional test within the framework of the EU Regulation on Risk Preparedness in the electricity sector and was a concrete result of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the seven countries of the Penta Forum in December 1, 2021.
The main objective of the regional exercise was to test the effectiveness of the mechanisms to share information and to cooperate for preventing an electricity crisis.
The simulation took place in Paris on May 24. Experts from Energy authorities, Transmission System Operators or crisis centers from these seven countries participated. The simulation featured shortages in energy supply due to a severe and prolonged cold spell in Western-Europe, which led to the activation of a controlled load-shedding plan.
Penta countries will now discuss results and use lessons learned to further improve their communication protocols, enhance resilience against a major electricity crisis and increase cross-border cooperation and assistance.
Such exercise is one response to Europe’s call for more cooperation in the energy sector.
Energy ministers of the Pentalateral Energy Forum strengthen coordination on natural gas storage
The Energy ministers of the so-called Pentalateral Energy Forum (comprising the Benelux and France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) signed a political declaration to strengthen their coordination on natural gas storage. With the current geopolitical situation, they do this to ensure the security of gas supply for European citizens and companies during coming winters, to alleviate the high energy bills and to promote the smooth functioning of the European energy market.
„The Pentalateral Energy Forum has a record of being a frontrunner in making energy cooperation happen over the borders”, underlines Claude Turmes, Minister for Energy of Luxemburg and current Chairman of the Pentalateral Energy Forum. “In the current tense geopolitical situation, gas storages are very important assets to foster not only the well-functioning of the European gas market but also the security of gas supply. We are collaborating closely regarding suitable frameworks to make use of these gas storages both effectively and efficiently.”
Within the recent proposals of the European Commission on gas storage, the seven Energy ministers emphasize that they stand together, coordinating their activities in a regional context to address possible differences between countries in terms of national legislation, capacity, storage, and gas consumption.
To comply with these European storage obligations, the ministers believe it important to continue to make cross-border use of storage facilities, including in and from European third countries. Countries with limited or no storage capacity should actively encourage their national gas companies to make use of storage capacity in other countries. In the political declaration the signatories stress that storage obligations must be market friendly and compatible with the European internal energy market. Also, the cost of this should be shared fairly between countries.
In addition to cooperation and coordination on gas storage obligations, the Pentalateral Energy Forum countries will intensify their work at national, regional and EU level to accelerate the deployment of energy savings and renewable energy sources, especially regarding the REPowerEU plan to be shortly presented by the European Commission.
Pentalateral Energy Forum
The Benelux countries, together with Germany and France, established the Pentalateral Energy Forum in 2005. Since 2011, Austria and Switzerland have also joined. It is a partnership between governments, regulators, network operators and market players. The competent energy ministers meet on a regular basis. The Benelux provides the secretariat. Together, Penta develops initiatives to complete the European single energy market
2 December 2021
Penta countries discuss measures to make the clean energy transition secure and resilient
Energy ministers of the Pentalateral Energy Forum met on the 1st of December in Brussels, together with the European Commissioner for energy Kadri Simson. This regional energy cooperation consisting of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland was created in 2005. Building on the previous success of developing a regional electricity market accounting for 50% of EU’s electricity production, the energy ministers now discussed measures to make sure the transition to clean energy remains secure and resilient.
Belgian energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten convened the ministerial meeting ahead of the European energy council. Traditionally, and since more than 15 years, the presidency of the Benelux invites the countries in the heart of Europe’s energy system to informally discuss energy issues of shared concern. This year, the voluntary cooperation of ministers and expert groups paid special attention to the creation of a framework for regional coordination on risk preparedness.
Along the lines of the EU Risk Preparedness Regulation, the energy ministers signed a memorandum of understanding to lay down a framework for cooperation in the Pentalateral Region with a view to preventing, preparing for and managing electricity crises in a spirit of solidarity and transparency. In practice, this will lead to a common communication protocol in case of crises, the organization of joint crisis exercises, an enhanced monitoring of security of supply in the region, and the further analysis and establishment of regional measures for crisis management such as support with equipment and coordination regarding communication to the public.
“To slow down climate change, we are now speeding up the energy transition. But to make this transition to clean energy successful, we need to ensure supply is secure and safe for citizens and the industry. In a strongly interconnected electricity system, this is a clear step forward towards a more coordinated regional approach in a region where solidarity, transparency and coordination are already at the heart”, stated minister Van der Straeten.
Referring to the memorandum, Kadri Simson said, ‘It is the cornerstone of the work on solidarity in the electricity sector in this region, providing the umbrella under which all the necessary technical work will now develop. It also sends a strong political signal about translating the commitment into actions for the common interest and welfare of our citizens.’
The Penta ministers further discussed possibilities to enhance and further align the national and European assessments of security of supply. They also took stock of the progress made towards a market for clean hydrogen, and agreed to enhance their cooperation on certification. Finally, some milestones were proposed for next year. Amongst others, energy officials from the seven countries are now tasked to prepare a joint vision for a decarbonized energy system for the Penta region in 2050 under the patronage of the energy ministers and facilitated by the Benelux Secretariat.
“As from its outset, Penta has been a laboratory for successful regional market integration. It proved today to remain a frontrunner on security of supply, with the common objective of a carbon-neutral future”, concluded Claude Turmes as incoming Luxembourg presidency. “My priority will be to help the Penta region to become the first regional renewable energy hub in Europe”.
Pentalateral Energy Forum – Penta Ministers set priorities for regional energy transition
The energy ministers of the Pentalateral Energy Forum (Belgium the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland) discussed at their meeting on February 1 progress of their regional energy cooperation and agreed on the priorities for 2021.
As current chair of this 15 year old regional energy cooperation, Belgian minister of energy Tinne Van der Straeten aims to achieve concrete results with her colleagues from Central-Western Europe on a couple of specific issues. Against the background of increasing shares of renewable energy, the countries will work on future proof infrastructure, on measures to prevent electricity crises and will coordinate their energy policy visions towards a carbon neutral 2050 electricity system.
The daily cooperation between energy ministries, network operators, regulatory authorities and the European Commission continued in 2020. Just like today’s ministerial meeting, all gatherings and exchanges however happened digitally. This resulted in a Political Declaration on the role of hydrogen. The strong message was captured by the European Commission in their hydrogen strategy, and at today’s meeting the ministers reconfirmed their will to implement the declaration. Experts from the various countries will continue to work together and develop ideas for example on the regulatory framework, certifications and the assessment of needs for infrastructure.
In 2021, the long term vision of the individual countries will be brought closer to each other, in view of reaching climate neutrality in the most cost efficient way. Researchers will make a joint analysis of existing trends and diverging pathways. On that basis, Penta countries will define potentials for synergy. At the same time, the energy transition requires policy makers to make decisions that require a scale or cross-border infrastructure that goes beyond the national borders. By working on this joint vision, the Pentalateral Energy Forum aims to reduce the risk of stranded investments.
Ministers mandated their high officials and the Benelux secretariat to structure this new priorities in a lean and pragmatic way throughout the regional Penta cooperation. Finally, they agreed that the Belgian chair would liaise with the European Commission and put these regional best practices also at the service of the European cooperation.
Minister Wiebes presents Penta Hydrogen Declaration at the Energy Council
Under the Dutch Presidency of the Benelux Union and the Pentalateral Energy Forum,
The Netherlands published on 15th June in the margins of the Council of the European ministers of Energy the joint political declaration of the Ministers of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland affirming their commitment to strengthen their cooperation on hydrogen produced in a CO2 reducing manner with the aim of contributing to the full decarbonisation of the energy system.
Pentalateral Energy Forum – Third Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment released
The Pentalateral Energy Forum is the framework for regional cooperation in Central Western Europe (AT-BE-DE-FR-LU-NL-CH) towards improved electricity market integration and security of supply. Today, the third edition of the Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment was published by the Transmission System Operators (TSO) in the Pentalateral Energy Forum.
This 3rd Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment is the result of a collaboration between TSOs and representatives of the ministries, market parties and regulatory authorities of the Pentalateral Energy Forum. The study assesses the ability of the Penta countries to keep offer and demand of electricity in balance, and hence ensure a secure supply. This time, TSOs look towards 2025 and include important policy decisions with regard to reduced electricity generation by coal or nuclear, and increased variable renewable energy production.
The study confirms the adequacy of the base case scenario according to common reliability standards. Regarding some other scenarios with lower than expected availability of gas or nuclear power, the report also identifies some risks. This regional report provides more important insights for fostering security of supply and can be used to further coordinate national policies.
Ministries welcome in a common statement the methodological improvements, including flow-based modelling and a deeper look into some critical hours. At the same time, they also note further possibilities to better integrate economic assesments of power plants in future analyses.
With the 3rd Penta Generation Adequacy Assessments, the Pentalateral Energy Forum has also contributed to European energy policy, by serving as a testing bed for cross-border adequacy methodologies. A knowledge sharing with other European partners will now take place. In the coming months, Penta partners will also assess how they can continue to play this pioneering role in the future.
Pentalateral Energy Forum – Penta High Level meeting on COVID and Green Deal
Dutch Director General for Energy and Climate, Sandor Gaastra, organised on the 28th of April a strategic discussion with the senior energy officials of the Pentalateral Energy Forum. Among other issues, the Directors General discussed the impact of COVID 19 on the energy sector, the recovery and initiatives to be a frontrunner in the EU in the deal towards a climate neutral electricity system.
Prior to this meeting, Benelux and the other Penta countries made in the beginning of April a first analysis of the impact of the Corona crisis on the energy sector. It showed that the supply of electricity remains well under control and led to an agreement to further closely monitor the situation together. The update shared at the High Level meeting confirmed that there is no energy crisis, but that urgently more attention should be paid to the economic impact on the energy sector in order to avoid more problematic situations.
Penta countries also exchanged views on the essential role of the energy sector for the economic recovery post Covid 19. It was agreed to continue this exchange. After the crisis, an evaluation will also be made of the measures taken, in view of finding best practices and recommendations.
The senior officials also finalised the negotiations on a political agreement on the role of hydrogen in the decarbonisation of the energy system. Hydrogen is at the top of the agenda of this years’ Dutch Benelux presidency. The Penta declaration will offer additional possibilities to work together on blending, sustainability labels and security standards, and to reap all potential benefits of hydrogen for the decarbonisation and for the green recovery.
Pentalateral Energy Forum PENTEX2018 – First Pentalateral Electricity Crisis Exercise
The authorities competent for electricity crisis management of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland held on 19 and 20 June 2018 a first regional electricity crisis exercise. This PENTEX2018 was organised in the framework of the “Memorandum of Understanding of the Pentalateral Energy Forum on Emergency Planning and Crisis Management for the Power sector”, signed on 26th of June 2017. The goal was to share best practices and to assess the different measures that that the countries implement in the case of a simultaneous emergency situation.
Seven country teams met during two days at the Benelux House. The European Commission, ENTSO-E and Liechstenstein joined as an observer. The set-up of the PENTEX2018 was prepared by a project team of ministry representatives and the Benelux secretariat, assisted by ISR International Safety Research. A Europe-wide security of supply problem was simulated and scenario-based group discussions took place.
The exercise confirmed the interdependency between the countries. National decisions can impact the internal electricity market, neighbouring countries and the entire region. There is need for coordination mechanisms for government decisions and communication. There remains to be lack of transparency in the preparation phase and during a crisis and topics for coordination were identified.
Penta showed to be a frontrunner on electricity crisis management and cross-border coordination. But most of the work still lies ahead. The lessons learnt from the exercise will be incorporated in the road map for further improvements in effective crisis prevention and management. This will be definitely also prove to be of added value when implementing the European Risk Preparedness Regulation.
Pentalateral Energy Forum – Second Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment released
The Pentalateral Energy Forum is the framework for regional cooperation in Central Western Europe (AT-BE-DE-FR-LU-NL-CH) towards improved electricity market integration and security of supply. Today, the second edition of the Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment was published by the Transmission System Operators (TSO) in the Pentalateral Energy Forum published (link naar ‘2nd PLEF GAA report’).
The Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment is an investigation on electricity security of supply, taking a regional perspective (AT-BE-DE-FR-LU-NL-CH). In a common statement (link naar ‘TSO onepager GAA final’), the TSOs underline the importance of this collaboration at the regional level: it enables the development of state of the art methodologies for assessing security of supply and it complements the respective national studies and provides decision-makers with a more holistic view on potential capacity scarcities in the Penta region.
Ministries (link naar ‘PLEF GAA common statement ministries’) acknowledge that the results are in line with the European wide assessment, where France and Belgium are most prone to generation adequacy problems. As some of the steps are pioneering and experimental, the Ministries realise that the quantitative results should be interpreted with caution. They will further analyse the results of the study and discuss the next steps.
Pentalateral Energy Forum & European Commission – Workshop on flexibility
The Penta SG3 on Flexibility and DG ENER of the European Commission organised a workshop on the 20th of November, to hear the views from the practical experiences of R&D&I projects on barriers to flexibility. The aim of the meeting was to learn from some key projects what they identify as barriers to deploying flexibility, and to see how ongoing projects, as wal as the projects called for in the Horizon2020 work programme, can help the Pentalateral Forum in its future work.
“What can be learned from R&I projects on barriers to the deployment of flexibility in the electricity grid?”
Welcome & introduction
Walter Schlegel (co-chair Penta SG3, Swiss ministry of energy)
Mark van Stiphout (European Commission, DG ENER)
Overview of ongoing R&I projects in Europe
Leonardo Meeus (Vlerick Business School)
Presentation of projects (Part I)
Gianluigi Migliavacca (RSE SpA)
Marco Rossi (RSE SpA)
Rowena McCappin (Glen Dimplex Heating and Ventilation)
Presentation of projects (Part II)
Pedro Godinho Matos (EDP)
Joseph Negreira (Smart Innovation Norway)
Feedback, guided discussion & outlook to future work
Mark van Stiphout (EC)
Robert Goodchild (INEA)
Conclusions and next steps
Pentalateral Energy Forum – Penta Ministers agree to cooperate closely on management of power risks
The Dutch Minister competent for Energy, H. Kamp, hosted on the 26th of June the meeting of the Ministers and representatives of the Pentalateral Energy Forum (Benelux, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland), the European Commission and the Benelux secretariat. The Ministers convened 1) to validate the achieved regional milestones (link naar ‘Penta Support Group Milestones’), 2) to exchange views on future regional cooperation (link naar ‘Penta Ministerial 26 June’) and 3) to agree on a Memorandum of Understanding on emergency planning and crisis management in the power sector (link naar ‘Penta MoU on Emergency Planning and Crisis Management in the Power Sector’).
At the meeting, which took place prior to the Energy Council in Luxembourg,
- Ministers took note of progress made and concluded that there is a need for an updated work program on market integration, security of supply and flexibility. The ministers task the Directors General to work out in more detail the working program for the years to come and to take into account the guidance given today;
- Ministers discussed the benefits and future role of the Penta cooperation. They concluded that the cooperation has brought clear benefits and that a bottom up approach and political guidance are key elements in the success. There remains a need for Penta cooperation in the energy transition and in the context of a new market design. Political guidance should remain part of the regional cooperation;
- Ministers decided to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. On prevention and management of risk the Penta members decided to cooperate closely to improve the security of supply.
Penta Support Groups Milestones
Penta Ministerial 26 June
Penta MoU on Emergency Planning and Crisis Management in the Power Sector
Pentalateral Energy Forum – Penta Directors General prepare Ministerial meeting
On the 16th of March, the Dutch Director General for Energy S. Gaastra chaired a meeting of the Directors General of the Pentalateral Energy Forum to monitor whether the regional milestones defined by the Ministers in 2015 are within reach. They concluded (link naar ‘Penta DG conclusions 16 March’) that the analysis on cross-border participation in capacity mechanisms, the improvements to the common generation adequacy assessment, some shared principles concerning risk prepared and a best practice guide on demand side reponse (link naar Penta (EG2) DSR report’) are making good progress.
Regarding other milestons, such as the roadmap for more integrated balancing and intra-day markets, they discussed about the remaining challenges in order to be able to deliver as well.
Finally, Directors General exchanged on the ‘Clean Energy for All package’ and on the need to keep the definitions aligned of an institutionalised top down regional cooperation and a voluntary bottom up step by step Penta cooperation.
Penta DGs Conclusions 16 March
Pentalateral Energy Forum accelerates the process to put regional cooperation into practice
The Luxembourg Presidency of the Benelux Union hosted on the 6th of June a meeting on regional energy cooperation with Director Generals for Energy from the Pentalateral Energy Forum (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland) in order to discuss the progress achieved so far and to decide on the next steps to further integrate electricity markets and to develop common approaches in guaranteeing the security of supply. Particular attention was paid to flexible market design. Link to Press Release
Pentalateral Energy Success Story Continues/Pentalateral Energy Forum Celebrating 10 years anniversary
- press release (8 June 2015)
- Second Political Declaration of the Pentalateral Energy Forum ( 8 June 2015)
The Pentalateral Energy Forum is the framework for regional cooperation in Central Western Europe (BENELUX-DE-FR-AT-CH) towards improved electricity market integration and security of supply. The Ministers for Energy of the pentalateral countries meet regularly in order to discuss energy policy matters and give guidance to this regional cooperation. The initiative aims to give political backing to a process of regional integration towards a European energy market.This cooperation is formalized trough the Memorandum of Understanding of the Pentalateral Energy Forum, signed on the 6th of June 2007 in Luxembourg.
The added value of this regional cooperation between Ministries, Transmission System Operators (TSOs), the European Commission, Regulatory authorities and the Market Parties Platform, lies in its ability to move faster, to reach more specific recommendations and to act as a development center for new ideas. In the Political Declaration of the Pentalateral Energy Forum of 7 June 2014, the Ministers of Energy requested a first Publication of the Pentalateral Generation Adequacy Assessment ; which was delivered 11 March 2015. The Ministries and the TSO’s of the Pentalateral region each made a common statement on this occasion:
The Pentalateral Energy Forum is subdivided in so-called Support Groups, covering work on market integration (SG1) and on security of supply (SG2). Support Groups on legal obstacles (SG3) and on ETS (SG4) are currently on hold. Representatives from the ministries of energy, the Penta Coordinators, chair the Support Group meetings and coordinate within their country. Together with the Directors General for energy, they prepare the meetings of the ministers.
The Benelux General Secretariat facilitates this cooperation. It offers the neutral platform for cooperation of the Pentalateral Energy Forum and manages the daily functioning of this regional cooperation.
The priorities of the Pentalateral cooperation have been defined in the Memorandum of Understanding of the Pentalateral Energy Forum in 2007. Both on market integration and security of supply, an Annex of the MoU details the action plan. Link to MoU 2007