As consequence of Europe’s climate and energy agenda, the European Union will generate some 50 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030. By 2050, the EU’s power system will have to be completely carbon-free. Solar photovoltaics and wind power – driven by significant cost reductions – will almost certainly contribute the biggest share of the zero-carbon technologies. Given the specific characteristics of wind power and photovoltaics (intermittent generation, high capital costs, very low variable costs), they will fundamentally change both market operations and the market design framework.
Decarbonisation rests on continuous investments in these technologies. Usually it is expected that the energy market will deliver these investments, in combination with the emissions trading system. But is this view, based on simple textbook economics, enough to enable the required investments under real world conditions? In this paper, we argue that this rather theoretical view to power market design is not the way forward. Instead, a more pragmatic approach is needed, that takes into account the complex practical, political, and economic challenges of the transition towards a carbon-free power system. Thus, we propose to think of the future European market design as a Power Market Pentagon.