Traliccio Valle d Aosta Pont Saint Martin 2020 32 Terna 1656x1242

More renewables, less consumption makes for an optimistic winter adequacy outlook for the European electricity system

The latest analysis from ENTSO-E finds that higher generation from renewables, lower energy demand and record gas storage levels will enable us to better face the coming winter compared to last year.

The European electricity system is preparing for the colder months with an improved and more optimistic adequacy outlook than last year and with limited risk for energy supplies. The main risks to supply are associated exclusively with weather conditions. These are the takeaways from the Winter Outlook published a few days ago by ENTSO-E, the european network of transmission system operators for electricity, which provides an overview of the security of the electricity supply across Europe for winter 2023–2024.

More specifically, development of new production capacity, particularly renewables, and lower energy consumption, with clear economic and environmental benefits, have reduced the risk of supply outages for the coming European winter compared to last year. The increase in renewables has more than offset less generation from traditional sources, resulting in more generation facilities than last winter. Confidence in energy security for the winter ahead is further strengthened by record continental gas storage, which reached 99.4% capacity at the start of November. This also means less reliance on other countries.

Centro nazionale controllo Marcigliana 2021 2043 Terna

A control centre of the italian national transmission grid managed by Terna (photo by Terna)

The report highlights that some more “isolated” areas, including Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and Finland, may see problems in the event of cold spells coinciding with unplanned shut-downs of power plants. These aspects could also represent a risk for the French, Belgian and British electricity systems, associated with high energy demand from citizens and businesses, particularly during periods of extreme weather. Malta may be forced to adopt special measures in the event that the Italian interconnection is unavailable. In Ireland and Northern Ireland, on the other hand, the availability of ageing gas power plants remains the greatest challenge. The adequacy situation will depend on the availability of wind generation in case there would be many unplanned outages of traditional plants.

Development of new production capacity, particularly renewables, and lower energy consumption, with clear economic and environmental benefits, have reduced the risk of supply outages for the coming European winter compared to last year.

The situation in Italy. As usual, the report also analyses the energy adequacy situation by individual state. The ENTSO-E report estimates a standard risk level for Italy, with critical situations possible «in the unlikely case of high demand due to cold spell, low import from neighbouring countries, or if unplanned outages rate of generation units is higher than the typical values». The countermeasures? Postponement and/or cancellation of maintenance, together with demand-response measures and additional market interventions. In cooperation with neighbouring TSOs (transmission system operators), Terna could also adopt a series of measures—including curtailment of inflexible generation or the reduction of transmission capacity—in the event of excessive generation, a scenario that could arise between the end of December 2023 and the start of January 2024, when there is typically low demand for electricity over the Christmas holidays.

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A Terna technical team carrying out maintenance on the grid in Avigliano, Southern Italy (photo by Terna)

The country focus for Italy also highlights growth in generation capacity, with renewables having now exceeded fossil fuels. Over the last year, Italy accelerated on the green energy front with an increase in installed capacity of 4.5 GW. According to the report, renewables (wind, photovoltaic and hydroelectric) reached 63 GW capacity, against 62 GW thermal capacity, with the latter increasing 1.4 GW in the last 12 months.

ENTSO-E analysis highlighted the need for Italy to import over 2 GW of electricity (at certain critical hours) from its neighbours to ensure system adequacy. This figure is, however, lower than that published in last year’s report. The reason for this is connected with lower forecast energy demand compared to previous winters, alongside greater availability of renewables, particularly hydroelectric power.


The ENTSO-E 2023–2024 Winter Outlook also reports the prospects for the coming winter in the the Ukrainian and Moldovan power systems, as well as additional efforts taken by the respective grid operators, Ukrenergo and Moldelectrica, to ensure stability of the power system after synchronisation with the continental european power system in March 2022. Ukrenergo and Moldelectrica continue working closely with ENTSO-E and all the other TSOs for further integration of electricity systems.