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EU invests €444m in energy infrastructure projects

Steve Rogerson
March 1, 2017
EU member states have agreed on the Commission's proposal to invest €444m in priority European energy infrastructure projects. The 18 selected electricity, smart grids and gas projects will contribute to connecting European energy networks, increasing security of energy supply, and contributing to the sustainable development by integrating renewable energy sources across the EU.
The Energy Union strategy has at its centre the transition to a low-carbon, secure and competitive economy. Properly interconnected electricity lines and gas pipelines form the backbone of an integrated European energy market. Investing in sustainable and renewable energy sources helps accelerate the energy transformation in Europe and ensures that such a transformation is used for the EU industry to reach a leading position in low-carbon technologies, thereby fostering green growth and jobs.
The money for the chosen projects comes from the Connecting Europe Facility, the EU's funding support programme for infrastructure.
"I welcome today's agreement by the member states,” said Commission vice-president for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič. “These are important projects with major cross-border implications. They are a tangible sign of what the Energy Union means for Europe and how the European Union can help making our countries stronger by cooperating closely together."
Of the 18 projects selected for funding, seven are in the electricity sector (EU support €176m), ten in the gas sector (EU support €228m) and one for smart grid (EU support €40m). Five relate to construction works (EU support €350mn) and 13 to studies (EU support €94mn).
"This is another milestone in the setup of a cleaner, more competitive European energy market,” said commissioner for climate action and energy Miguel Arias Cañete. “An energy infrastructure which is fit for purpose is essential for renewables to thrive. Thanks to this upgrade, the proposals in the Clean Energy for All Europeans package are even closer to become a reality. The EU is demonstrating its commitment to delivering cheaper, more sustainable and secure energy to European consumers."
In the electricity sector, a grant will support the implementation of Germany's largest energy infrastructure project in its preparation phase: the SuedLink project (EU support €40.25m). It is the first project of this kind on such a large scale: 700km of high-voltage cables due to be laid fully underground. The power line will create an urgently needed link between the wind power generated in the north and the consumer centres in the south of Germany. It will ensure better integration of renewable energies and will also further enhance the cross-border exchange of energy with other EU member states.
A €90m EU grant will support the implementation of an innovative energy storage project, the compressed air energy storage (CAES) in Larne, Northern Ireland. This project uses excess energy when, for example, renewable generation is abundant, into compressed air which is then stored in geological caverns within salt layers deep underground, for later release to generate electricity. The project will contribute to system flexibility and stability and facilitate the large-scale penetration of renewables into energy markets.
In the gas sector, the Connecting Europe Facility will support the construction of an off-shore LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk (EU support €102m), which will bring diversification in the region mostly dominated by one single source of supply. It will thus improve energy security and price competitiveness in the region.
Furthermore, a smart grid project (Sincrogrid project) that will lead to more efficient use of the existing electricity transmission grid in both Slovenia and Croatia will receive €40m financial support. This will enable current infrastructure to cope with the uptake of additional renewable energy and result in greater energy security without the need to build new overhead cables.
Under the Connecting Europe Facility, a total of €5.35bn has been allocated to trans-European energy infrastructure for the period 2014 to 2020. To be eligible for a grant, a proposal has to be a project of common interest; there are currently 195 European energy infrastructure projects identified as such. When completed, the projects will each result in benefits for at least two member states, enhance security of supply, contribute to market integration, and enhance competition, as well as reduce CO2 emissions.