Power producers

Stakeholder role in grid projects: 

With regards to electrical power, Power producers are typically private sector companies that own and operate power plants for the production of electrical energy. They can be divided into two groups. First, those that have a high share of renewable energy production in their portfolio (for example from wind energy), and second those that primarily produce electric power with traditional energy sources such as coal, lignite and gas. The first group typically has a genuine interest in the extension of grid lines since this helps to connect their power plants to the consumers. Along with some big players, several smaller players owning few or sometimes even only one power plant exist in this group. The second group’s interest in grid development projects is typically less strong if grid projects are not primarily targeted at the renewal of old grid lines or the connection of remote areas. In this group typically only larger players exist.

The first group can act as promoter of grid projects, especially when it comes to showing how grid development projects benefit the integration of renewable energy. In addition, both groups can contribute with the experience and expertise on communication activities they have gained while building new power plants since typically similar communication issues and patterns occur in those projects as in grid projects.

 

Primary concern with grid projects: 
Usual patterns: 

Since Power producers are usually privately owned companies, their primary interest is that their power plants operate profitably. At the same time, especially large-scale renewable power plants, such as wind parks, highly depend on new high-voltage lines that connect them to the consumers and enable Power producers to operate their plants at a sufficient capacity utilisation rate. Hence, Power producers with a high share of renewables in their portfolio have a genuine, strong interest in the fast and smooth development of grid projects.
Power producers with a high share of conventional energy production in their portfolio also have an interest in well-functioning grids. While they do usually not benefit directly from new grid lines targeted at the integration of renewables, they are typically in favour of grid projects that replace old lines, remove bottlenecks and connect remote areas.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Do the Power producers potentially affected by a specific grid project have a high share of renewables in their portfolio?   

  • Does the specific grid project also benefit Power producers with a low share of renewables, e.g. by building new lines to formerly badly connected areas or renewing inefficient old lines?

Topography within stakeholder group: 
Usual patterns: 

Typically, several Power producers are active within the domestic markets of EU countries. Usually the market is dominated by one to four main big players. In the renewable energy sector however, smaller players have entered the scene and have increasingly gained importance during the last years. This is due to the fact that the upfront capital costs of power plants for renewable energy production are small compared to traditional power plants.

In addition, Power producers sometimes form national or supra-national business associations to represent their interests, on a national or EU level.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • How many Power producers exist in the market affected by a specific grid project? 
  • Are Power producers in the market affected by a specific grid project organised in national/ supra-national associations?

Individuals within stakeholder organisations/entities: 
Usual patterns: 

Similar to TSOs, two groups of individuals within Power producers are most important with regards to grid projects. On the one hand, the high-level management of Power producers typically decides on the energy portfolio of the Power producer. On the other hand, Power producers usually have staff focusing on communication activities. If a Power producer has a high share of renewable energy in its portfolio, the communication staff typically also focuses on raising acceptance for grid projects that enhance the integration of renewable energy. In addition, the construction of power plants, including those for renewable energy production, often faces similar concerns and doubts from local affected stakeholders as grid projects. Hence, the respective communication staff has often accumulated significant experience and expertise on raising acceptance among local affected stakeholders.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Who are the most important members of the high-level management of Power producers affected by grid projects?   

  • Who are the most important members of the communication staff of Power producers affected by grid projects?

Project stage for engagement: 
Usual patterns: 

Power producers are typically not involved in the actual development of grid projects per se. However, as Power producers are one of the main players in the energy value chain, they have significant insight into the potential development of the energy market and the needs of the supply side in this market. It is therefore crucial to involve them at the “Determination of need” stage.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • To which steps in the project-specific “Determination of need” stage can the Power producers contribute?
Usual patterns: 

In addition to their direct participation at the “Determination of need” stage, Power producers can contribute to communication activities at all further stages with the experience and expertise they have gained in their own projects.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What is the concrete expertise of the Power producers affected by a grid project with regards to communication activities?    

  • In which way are the Power producers affected by a specific grid project willing to contribute throughout the process of a specific project?

General concerns: 
Usual patterns: 

As private sector companies, the general concerns of Power producers surround the economic profitability of their operations. Especially in the field of renewable energy production, Power producers still depend on subsidies and hence on the political will for supporting these. Therefore, they have a major interest in shaping the political debate and the public opinion on energy production in general and renewable energies in particular. 

Project-specific questions: 
  • Have Power producers affected by a specific grid project tried to shape the public debate regarding renewable energy?
Adequate communication channels for participation/cooperation: 
Usual patterns: 

Power producers often have elaborate websites on which they explain relevant aspects of energy production and supply. If applicable, these websites often have detailed information on the integration of renewables. It therefore makes sense to put links to the relevant Power producers’ websites on the website of a specific grid project.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Do the Power producers affected by a specific grid project have websites that can, for example, show the link between grid extension and integration of renewables?
Usual patterns: 

Power producers have specific expertise which is important for grid projects but typically do not directly participate in their execution. Tapping this expertise should ideally take place through channels that allow for direct interaction in order for the other stakeholders to receive as concrete information as possible. A Power producer can, for example, be invited to Roundtable in which other stakeholders such as TSOs, NGOs or local Adjacent communities participate. There the Power producer can explain from its perspective why a certain grid project helps to integrate renewables.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Which channels have been used so far for interacting with the Power producers affected by a specific grid project?    

  • Through which channels are the Power producers affected by a specific grid project willing to contribute with their expertise?

Adequate communication formats for participation/cooperation: 
Usual patterns: 

While Power producers typically do not take a driving role in grid projects, they can contribute to the activities undertaken with their expertise and experience. It might, for example, make sense to ask them for a contribution to a Presentation or a Brochure/Flyer/Leaflet/Fact sheet in which they explain the supply-side position on why grids are needed.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • With the help of which formats have the Power producers affected by a specific grid project contributed so far?   

  • With the help of which formats are the Power producers affected by a specific grid project willing to contribute?

Country-specific examples: 

Some EU-wide associations for producers of renewable energy such as EWEA (European Wind Energy Association) take an active role in promoting grid extension by participating in EU-wide forums and presenting their position to political decision makers. Since they can credibly advocate that grid extension helps the integration of renewables, it also makes sense for project developers to involve them in their communication activities.