The Commission has adopted its communication “Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond – A Blueprint for an integrated European energy network”. The main issues:
Electricity grids must be upgraded and modernised to meet increasing demand due to a major shift in the overall energy value chain and mix. Electricity generated from renewable sources, which is expected to more than double in the period 2007-2020. High-voltage long distance and new electricity storage technologies must be implemented which can accommodate ever-increasing shares of renewable energy, from the EU and beyond.
The priority projects re:
1. Offshore grid in the Northern Seas and connection to Northern as well as Central Europe.
2. Interconnections in South Western Europe to accommodate wind, hydro and solar.
3. Connections in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe
4. Completion of the BEMIP (Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan.
Natural gas will gain importance as the back-up fuel for variable electricity generation. A diversified portfolio of physical gas sources and routes and a fully interconnected and bidirectional gas network are needed.
The priority projects are:
1. Southern Corridor to bring gas from the Caspian Basin, Central Asia and the Middle East to the EU.
2. Linking the Baltic, Black, Adriatic and Aegean Seas through in particular:
– the implementation of BEMIP and
– the North-South Corridor in Central Eastern and South-East Europe.
3. North-South Corridor in Western Europe.
The development and modernisation of district heating and cooling networks should be promoted as a matter of priority in all larger agglomerations.
Around one trillion euros must be invested in the EU energy system between today and 2020. Out of these investments about 200 billion euros are needed for energy transmission networks alone.
One way to do that will be via regional clusters. The Commission also proposes the establishment of a contact authority (“one-stop shop”) per project of European interest, serving as a single interface between project developers and the competent authorities involved at national, regional, and/or local level. The introduction of a time limit for a final positive or negative decision to be taken by the competent authority will be explored. The Commission also proposes the development of guidelines to increase the transparency and predictability of the process for all parties involved (ministries, local and regional authorities, project developers and affected populations).
As for funding, a number of measures are suggested:
- Leveraging private sources through improved cost allocation, including the introduction of guidelines or a legislative proposal to address cost allocation of major technologically complex or cross-border projects;
- Combining existing and innovative financial mechanisms that are different, flexible and tailored towards the specific financial risks and needs faced by projects at the various stages of their development.