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With energy security a key focus for the UK and Europe as countries across the region exploring how they can reach net zero, legal experts have collaborated to provide an in-depth analysis of the energy supply issues affecting businesses across the UK and continental Europe.

In the new edition of their leading guide to European energy law, the European Energy Handbook, Herbert Smith Freehills explores  the legal and commercial developments impacting the energy sector across the continent in detail. Chapters explore the legal and regulatory framework in 41 jurisdictions, together with an analysis of the renewable energy regimes in countries ranging from France, Germany, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

This year's European Energy Handbook' the book is the 12th edition published by Herbert Smith Freehills. This latest iteration identifies details such as national action plans for energy efficiency, market governance and developments around sustainable finance.

The book covers issues such as the REPower EU strategy which, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, was introduced with the aim of reducing the EU's dependence on Russian fossil fuels. It also explores other developments in EU energy policy and strategy including the EU's adoption of the European Green Deal, Fit for 55 and the revision of the design of the EU electricity market.

An examination of individual countries also provides an overview of the percentage of energy generated from renewable sources, together with analysis of the financial incentives driving behavioural changes. The authors also explore topics including the:

  • increasing importance of electricity storage in the energy mix; 
  • evident progress of privatisations in some jurisdictions;
  • development and construction of new electricity interconnectors and the emergence of multi-purpose interconnectors to enable multi-jurisdictional offshore wind projects.

This latest handbook follows publication, earlier this year, of a book by Herbert Smith Freehills partner and global head of climate change Silke Goldberg, which explored the impact of Brexit on the energy sector. It noted that close levels of cooperation should be a focus for governments as they strive to provide secure and sustainable supplies of energy to business and domestic customers.

"In a time of transition to a net zero carbon world, energy systems need to be smart, flexible, diverse and resilient. Being part of – or connected to – a large market with different patterns of supply and demand makes the task of meeting energy objectives much easier and more affordable," says Goldberg.

Published against the backdrop of continued regional conflict and the cost of living crisis, the new energy handbook highlights how climate change and energy transition continue to dominate political and regulatory discussions as each jurisdiction strives to meet its renewable energy obligations by 2030 and beyond. 

It goes on to outline issues such as how a reduction in energy demand correlates to domestic energy production in the UK, why research and innovation should be used to accelerate the development and deployment of low-carbon technology in the EU and the manner in which countries such as the Netherlands, Italy and Spain are storing energy for long-term use. 

Goldberg concludes: "The growth in investment in alternative renewable sources such as hydrogen, and the ever increasing importance in the consideration of environmental, social and governance obligations in the energy world mean that pragmatic solutions are needed to meet the current and future challenges of the energy sector. The hope is that governments outside the EU will not make the historic mistake of preferring institutional purity over plain simple economic advantage for people in Europe."

Authors contributing to the Handbook came from a number of organisations. The full list of contributors and the 2023/24 European Energy Handbook can be downloaded from Herbert Smith Freehills' website.

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Mike Petrook

Mike Petrook, Communications Manager