* Thousands of km of pipelines envisaged for CO2 disposal
* EU wants up to 90 bcm of gas a year via southern corridor
By Pete Harrison
BRUSSELS, Nov 15 Europe's energy chief will this
week reveal his blueprint for massive new gas pipelines,
high-tech "electricity highways" and up to 8,000 km of pipes for
transporting and burying greenhouse gases, a leaked draft shows.
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger last week issued a
warning over gas and oil imports and unveiled a strategy for
investing 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trln) over the next decade to
bolster energy security.
On Wednesday, he will add detail to that strategy by
launching a second report: "Energy infrastructure priorities for
2020 and 2030 -- a blueprint for an integrated European energy
Oettinger has received support for plans, in a leaked draft
of that blueprint, to build "electricity highways" to distribute
vast amounts of electricity generated by windfarms in the North
Sea and solar power parks around the Mediterranean.
But a vision of thousands of kilometres of pipelines to
transport carbon dioxide from power stations and bury it in
depleted gas fields faces a mixed reception.
Critics point to a recent study commissioned by Oettinger's
team, which found that carbon capture and storage (CCS)
technology might barely get past the testing phase before a
widespread shift to green power lowers the carbon price and
destroys incentives. [ID:nLDE68F16Z]
Green group politician Claude Turmes said CCS would need
heavy taxpayer subsidies unless the carbon price in Europe's cap
and trade scheme were to reach 60-80 euros per tonne, compared
with about 15 euros today.
"It's a non-proven technology," he added. "There are easier
and less costly potentials in renewable energy for reducing
Europe's carbon footprint and enhancing its energy security."
For a summary of the leaked draft, click here:
Others in Europe's energy debate counter that CCS is too
important a technology for cutting greenhouse gas emissions for
it to be ignored.
"CCS may account for roughly 12 percent of emission
reductions by 2030 and 22 percent by 2050," said Giuseppe
Lorubio of power industry body Eurelectric. "This clearly tells
you how important CCS is for our sector but for the industrial
The plan also envisages major north-south electricity cables
to carry renewable energy from the North Sea and Mediterranean
to central Europe, helping dissipate spikes in production that
might otherwise overload local networks.
"We really need a European market for renewable energy to
help offset its intermittency, and interconnections are a
primary condition for that to develop," said Eurelectric's
The shift towards lower carbon energy sources also looks set
to benefit gas producers such as Russia and Azerbaijan as Europe
strives to limit coal consumption and hit targets for lowering
CO2 emissions to one fifth below 1990 levels over the next
Dependency on gas imports will increase from around 60
percent today to reach 73-79 percent of gas consumption by 2020
and 81-89 percent by 2030, says the draft.
As Europe's top gas supplier, Russia currently provides
about a third of that, but efforts are underway to prevent that
share from growing -- mainly by developing a "southern corridor"
for gas imports from the Caspian region.
"The strategic objective of the corridor is to achieve a
supply route to the EU of roughly 10-20 percent of EU gas demand
by 2020, equivalent roughly to 45-90 billion cubic meters of gas
per year," says the draft.
That is one of the clearest definitions yet of what the EU
hopes to achieve in the Caspian region.
(Reporting by Pete Harrison, editing by Jane Baird)