BRUSSELS Oct 17 The European Commission is
expected this week to publish its latest legislation on how to
improve EU energy grids and pipelines to ensure secure,
sustainable supplies and move towards a single, efficient
Energy is for the first time a part of the multi-year budget
for 2014-2020 and, subject to lengthy debate, 9.1 billion euros
($12 billion) could be allocated to infrastructure of strategic
It is less than 1 percent of the overall EU budget, but EU
sources say it could help to draw further finance from private
sources and national governments.
The European Commission has estimated total investment
needed for energy infrastructure of Europe-wide importance
stands at more than 200 billion euros for the rest of the
Of this, 140 billion euros would be for high voltage
electricity transmission, 70 billion for gas pipelines and 2.5
billion for carbon dioxide infrastructure.
The following addresses some of the questions surrounding
the new law.
The energy infrastructure regulation seeks to speed up
Permit granting, which in the most extreme scenarios has
taken decades, will require no more than three years.
If projects of "common interest" are subject to delays or
other implementation difficulties, the European Commission will
be able to designate a European coordinator to find a solution.
IS IT PROGRESS?
Most parties argue the new legislation is an improvement on
the previous Trans-European Networks for Energy, known as TEN-E.
In broad terms, industry and green groups welcome what they
see as a more streamlined approach, although industry has voiced
reservations about whether it could distort competition and some
environmentalists and local residents could object to increased
powers to sweep aside planning objections.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) saw the law as a
step in the right direction, but questioned the inclusion of
carbon capture and storage in its list of projects of common
"We don't know whether CCS is viable in the near future at
all, while the infrastructure package talks about today's
available technology and related investments," said Paul
Wilczek, senior regulatory affairs adviser at EWEA.
HOW DOES THIS TIE IN WITH EU POLICY?
Apart from the overall policy goal of secure and sustainable
supplies, the EU has set targets of cutting its carbon emissions
by 20 percent compared with its 1990 levels, deriving 20 percent
of its energy from renewable sources and improving efficiency by
It is broadly on track so far on the first two targets,
which are binding, but only about half-way towards meeting the
non-binding efficiency goal.
Analysts say the new law will probably not address the
efficiency issue, which is largely dependent on national
measures on, for instance, insulation.
It could advance the other two targets and help to lay the
groundwork for over-achievement in line with the Commission's
2050 low carbon road map, which sees the need for much deeper
carbon cuts by the middle of the century.
By the end of this year, the Commission will also publish a
2050 energy road map on how longer term targets can reached.
The EU has, meanwhile, aimed to achieve a single energy
market by 2014, although the Commission has said this deadline
could be missed.
The new law should encourage the shift towards a single
market after that date and add to security of supply as outages
in one country could be compensated for more effectively by
COULD THERE BE A CLASH OF GOALS?
Analysts say the paradox of achieving greater energy
efficiency is that it could depress an already weakened carbon
market and take away incentives to produce clean energy.
One solution raised in the low carbon road map is to set
aside -- remove either permanently or temporarily from the
system -- some carbon allowances to support the carbon price.
Introducing more ambitious carbon reduction targets could be
an even better solution, green groups say.
"Moving to 30 percent emissions reduction is the most
effective way to tighten the emissions cap and establish the
high and stable carbon price necessary to make the shift to a
renewable energy economy," EWEA has said.
WHAT ARE THE PRIORITY PROJECTS?
The draft law grants priority to 12 strategic trans-European
infrastructure corridors and areas, which it says are vital for
achieving the EU's energy and climate policy objectives:
-- Northern seas offshore grid in the North Sea, the Irish
Sea, the English Channel and the Baltic Sea to transport
electricity from renewable offshore energy sources to centres of
consumption and storage.
-- North-south electricity connections in southwestern
Europe between member states from the region and third
countries, notably to integrate renewable electricity.
-- North-south gas interconnections in western Europe.
-- North-south electricity interconnections in
central-eastern and southeastern Europe to complete the internal
European market and integrate renewable power.
-- North-south gas interconnections in central-eastern and
southeastern Europe -- between the Baltic Sea region, the
Adriatic and Aegean and the Black Sea, to enhance
diversification and security of gas supply.
-- Oil supply connections in central eastern Europe to
increase security of supply and reduce environmental risks.
-- Baltic energy market interconnection plan in electricity
to end the isolation of the Baltic states and help market
-- Baltic energy market interconnection plan in gas to end
the isolation of the Baltic states and Finland and their
dependency on a single supplier.
-- Southern gas corridor to carry gas from the Caspian
Basin, Central Asia and the Middle East to enhance
diversification of supply.
The most ambitious and high profile of the projects for this
corridor, which could reduce dependence on Russian gas, is
Nabucco, but analysts have said rival projects could provide
more practical solutions.
-- Adoption of smart grids across the European Union.
-- Aim to establish the first electricity highways by 2020.
-- Cross-border carbon dioxide network and the deployment of
carbon dioxide capture and storage.
($1 = 0.721 Euros)
(Editing by James Jukwey)