For Europe to transition to a clean and modern economy - a goal of the energy union and a priority of the Juncker Commission - it is necessary to adapt European infrastructure to the future needs of the energy system. Energy interconnections form the backbone of an integrated European energy market anchored on the principle of solidarity. A fully interconnected market will improve Europe's security of supply, reduce the dependence on single suppliers and give consumers more choice. It is also essential for renewable energy sources to thrive and for the EU deliver on its Paris Agreement commitments on climate change.
With this spirit in mind, today EU Member States agreed on a Commission proposal to invest €556 million in key European energy infrastructure projects with major cross-border benefits. The EU funding comes from the energy window of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF-Energy). The grants go to Projects of Common Interest that increase competitiveness, enhance the EU’s security of energy supply, and contribute to sustainable development and the protection of the environment, as well as the promotion of safe, secure and efficient network operation.
Today’s vote grants financial aid for studies and works for a total of 8 projects: 6 for electricity and 2 for gas. The overall amount of CEF-Energy funding to be granted to the proposals is €556 million, with electricity accounting for €550 million and €6 million allocated to the gas. This call for proposals (2019) was launched in March and closed on 13 June 2019.
In the electricity sector, a €530 million grant was awarded for works on the Celtic Interconnector between France and Ireland which will for the first time connect Ireland directly with the continent. The grant will enable the construction of a 700 MW high voltage direct current connection of approximately 575 km in length between the South coast of Ireland and the North-West coast of Brittany in France. It will end Ireland’s electrical isolation from the European continent. The interconnector will increase regional security of supply and enhance the development and integration of more renewable energy.
In addition, funding was given for studies to support electricity storage projects in the Netherlands, Estonia, and Lithuania as well as the Baltic electricity Synchronisation Project. In the gas sector, nearly €5 million were awarded for works on the enhancement of the interconnection between Latvia and Lithuania as well as for a study on underground gas storage in Greece.
The Connecting Europe Facility envisages a total budget of €5.35 billion for trans-European energy infrastructure for the period 2014-2020. In order to be eligible for a grant, a proposal has to be 'a project of common interest' (PCI) included in the Union-wide list adopted biennially by the Commission. The latest PCI list was published in November 2017 and the next PCI list is expected to enter into force in early 2020.
The Connecting Europe Facility (Energy) already granted:
- €647 million to 34 projects in 2014,
- €366 million to 35 projects in 2015,
- €707 million to 27 projects in 2016,
- €873 million to 17 projects in 2017 and
- €848 million to 22 projects in 2018.
Overall, 59% of the budget allocated so far supported electricity projects (including smart grids).
In the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Commission has proposed to renew the Connecting Europe Facility, allocating €42.3 billion to support investments in European infrastructure networks, including €8.7 billion for energy.
2 October 2019