Smart grids, integration of renewables and simpler authorization procedures were the main issues raised at the European Parliament’s Energy Committee public hearing on 15 March. Debate focused on the need for a new European method for planning and development of energy infrastructure and the swift implementation of projects.

 The issue of smart grids was raised my many speakers, with Karl Efstadius, from ABB, referring to smart grids as the “enabler of a sustainable electricity system”, adding that “smart grid is a global concept with local roadmaps.” Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D, BE) described smart networks as a “clear priority,” while Jan Brezina (EPP, CZ) stressed the great benefit they offer for the integration of renewables. Dr. Eckehard Troster, from Energynautics, highlighted the example of Denmark, where one of the largest pilot projects on smart grids takes place. Francois Trevoux, from the European Investment Bank, described lengthy permitting processes as one of the main obstacles for larger investments. Eloy Colom, from the University of Zaragoza, highlighted the key elements of the structure of authorization procedures as “transparency, involving all stakeholders and respecting the principle of subsidiarity.” “We need to speed up implementation of projects”, he said and called for a coordination of Member States’ procedures.