Electricity market players
On its way from generators to consumers, electricity passes through an open market involving numerous players.
In fact, the smooth functioning of the electricity market depends on:
Electricity generators are the first players in the chain, generating power either in ‘traditional’ ways (e.g. in nuclear power stations, combined-cycle gas turbine facilities or combined heat and power plants) or in units using renewable energy sources (like wind or solar farms and thermal or hydroelectric power stations). Current ‘created’ by these generators is then injected into the (high-voltage) transmission system or directly into (medium or low-voltage) distribution systems before being delivered to the end user (industry, institutions, SMEs, residential customers, and so on).
Power exchanges are platforms used by market players to anonymously negotiate same-day or next-day purchases and sales of electricity. This arrangement, set up when the electricity market was liberalised, provides an open market, organises competition and establishes a transparent reference price for market participants.
TSOs are responsible for reliably and efficiently running high and very-high voltage transmission systems. Elia is Belgium’s only TSO.
The electricity market also stretches across borders, and the interconnections between European transmission systems allow countries to help each other and enable cross-border energy exchanges. For this reason, collaboration between TSOs is crucial.
European TSOs are represented in the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), an international association that is the European Commission’s reference body.
In addition, Coreso, the technical coordination centre for Central West Europe shared by a number of TSOs (including Elia), continually monitors systems and provides real-time analysis of their security of supply.
DSOs are tasked with reliably and efficiently running medium to low-voltage distribution systems. DSOs transmit electricity to residential customers and SMEs, for example, as well as being responsible for public lighting, among other things.
In Belgium, DSOs are ORES, Tecteo (Resa), Régie de Wavre, AIESH and AIEG in Wallonia, Sibelga in the Brussels-Capital Region and Eandis and Infrax in Flanders.
In an environment where a number of players have a legal monopoly, regulators effectively ‘police’ the energy market. Their missions include:
- guaranteeing transparency and competitiveness on the energy market;
- checking that the market operates in line with public interest and overall energy policy;
- defending consumers’ interests;
- advising authorities on energy issues.
Belgium has one federal regulator, the Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation CREG, and three regional regulators:
- the Walloon Energy Commission (CWaPE) in Wallonia;
- Brussels Gas and Electricity (BRUGEL) in the Brussels-Capital Region;
- the Flemish Electricity and Gas Regulator (VREG) in Flanders.
The end users can be anyone from individuals to major industrial players. Industrial users are often directly connected to the high-voltage grid, whereas individual users or SMEs, for example, are connected to the distribution system.