Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Individual research project: “Integrated Network Planning for Hydrogen and National Energy and Climate Plans”



Sector integration linking the various energy carriers and planning are key factors in ensuring the expected results of European climate and energy transition policies towards the ultimate goal of climate neutrality. These aspects have been highlighted by the EU Strategy for Energy System Integration [COM(2020)299] as part of the European Green Deal. Electricity and gas are already interlinked mainly by gas to power assets. However, with power to gas assets, such as electrolysers, the interlinkages between electricity and gases, including hydrogen, is expected to become more integrated. However, consideration of energy system integration in current network planning schemes and practices is deficient in European and national law. There are a number of critical issues, including: discrepancies between the EU-wide ten-year network development plan (‘TYNDP’) and national network development plans (‘NDP’); Member States are not required by EU law to develop a national network development plan, if the TSO is certified as ownership unbundled; electricity and gas networks are planned and managed independently from each other; integrated network planning should be linked to national energy and climate plans in order to ensure alignment with the European climate and energy targets for 2030 and 2050. The objectives of the project concern the legal instruments aimed at overcoming the planning fragmentation between the European and national level, the limited cooperation between electricity and gas TSOs, the disconnection between network planning and the scenarios envisaged in the climate and energy plans. Research will benefit the efficient achievement of decarbonisation targets and that investment decisions are made with a coherent, consistent, and shared vision for the future. From a legal-analytical perspective, the objectives are highly relevant insofar as they affect the rules of the energy governance system necessary for the deployment of the hydrogen economy and, in particular, the planning instruments that lack adequate regulatory density in current European law. From a methodological perspective, this project will first rely on doctrinal constructivism to retrieve, analyse and categorise the relevant legal sources. This methodology is aiming to provide innovative constitutional narratives promoting legal innovation and providing coherence in a context of network regulation and competing principles. It connects directly with empirical legal methodology enhancing the possibilities of legal reasoning and quantitative analysis. The functional comparative methodology will be used to compare the findings of the analysis in the Netherlands and Finland. Finally, the results based on legal-dogmatic research and comparative research will be enriched using qualitative empirical methodology. By means of semi-structured interviews, stakeholders from the Netherlands, Spain and Finland involved in the planning of energy and climate action will provide deeper insights about the experienced legal barriers and possible solutions.

Planned secondment(s):

The doctoral candidate will be supervised at URV by Prof. Endrius Cocciolo and Prof. Jordi Jaria. Then DC 1 will run for 6 months, during the second PhD year at RUG (Supervisor: Prof. Squintani), to acquire useful empirical methodological skills concerning participation in planning processes; researcher 1 will also carry out a secondment of 4 months during the first doctoral year at the UEF (Supervisor: Prof. Talus), to study different planning models from a comparative approach. Finally, researcher 1 will spend 2 months at GGF in Finland, in the third doctoral year, to participate in policy-making processes, thus applying doctrinal, comparative, and empirical skills in formulating energy policies and planning, with special reference to integrated planning for hydrogen.