Member States of the European Union voted on January 23 on a Commission proposal to invest almost €800 million in key European energy infrastructure projects with major cross-border benefits. According to the Commission, the EU funding comes from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the European support programme for trans-European infrastructure.
“As a crucial element of our overall energy and climate strategy, we need to ensure that our energy infrastructure is sustainable, goal-oriented, and operational,” Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said. “With almost two thirds of today’s investment decision devoted to electricity, we are delivering on our promise to align EU funding with our political ambition to deliver the clean energy transition. We continue to invest in the right energy infrastructure projects, which are essential to the EU’s clean energy transition and security of supply.”
Cañete welcomed the support given to the Baltic electricity synchronisation project, which will help materialise the Baltic States’ ambition to integrate their electricity system with continental Europe and improve the security of supply in the Baltic region.
European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič reminded that CEF is one of those instruments that prove the EU’s added value. He noted that the approved list on January 23 showcases that Energy Union is an efficient tool to modernise and green EU economies, to make them future proof in line with climate and environmental goals.
According to the Commission, priority is given to projects that increase competitiveness, enhance the EU’s security of energy supply through the promotion of safe, secure and efficient network operation, and contribute to sustainable development and environmental protection. Creating a connected, modern energy grid represents a crucial element of the Energy Union, one of the political priorities of the Juncker Commission.
The vote on January 23 concerns CEF financial aid for studies and works for a total of 14 projects: 7 for electricity, 2 for smart grids, 2 for CO2 cross-border transportation and 3 for gas. The proposed CEF-Energy funding amounts to almost €800 million, with electricity and smart grids accounting for €504 million, €9.3 million to support studies on the development of CO2 transport infrastructure; and €286 allocated to the gas sector. This current call for proposals (2018-2) was launched in June and closed on October 11, 2018, the Commission said
In the electricity sector, a €323 million grant is awarded to the Baltic electricity synchronisation project. The Baltic States remain synchronously connected to the central dispatch facility of Russia, hindering their full integration into EU electricity markets, the Commission said, explaining that the project aims to increase the security of supply and reliability of the power systems in the region through their synchronous connection to the Continental European Network. In June of 2018, EU leaders agreed on the political roadmap for completing the synchronisation.
On smart grids, support has been approved for the ACON SG project to modernise and improve the power grid between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The €91 million grant will now contribute to the setting up of smart grids in the border region.
Moreover, €6.5 million in funding will be allocated to a study on the development of a CO2 infrastructure in the Port of Rotterdam. The objective is to establish open access, cross-border, carbon dioxide network in northwest Europe, with its core located in the Port of Rotterdam, the Commission said.
Finally, in the gas sector, the CEF will support, with nearly €215 million, the Baltic Pipe project, a new, bi-directional offshore gas interconnection between Poland and Denmark. This pipeline will be crucial for the security of supply and market integration of the region.
The CEF 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”. 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.