* Oettinger outlines 7 priority corridors for gas, power
* Projects in corridors eligible for funds, faster permits
* Shortlist to be finalised in 2012
By Pete Harrison
BRUSSELS, Nov 17 Europe's energy chief took the
first step on Wednesday towards defining a list of gas and power
distribution projects by 2012 that will benefit from public
funds and fast-tracked building permits.
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger prioritised four
corridors for electricity and three for gas with the aim of
binding together the supplies of all 27 European Union
About 200 billion euros ($270 billion) will be needed to
make the plans a reality over the next decade, he said.
"We're still using the old territorial limits that existed
before the European Union," he told reporters. "Our current
infrastructure is ageing rapidly and is no longer in line with
the technical possibilities."
By integrating national networks, Oettinger hopes to boost
distribution of renewable energy and increase countries' ability
to help each other in the event of a crisis, such as the January
2009 cut-off of Russian gas supplies via Ukraine.
The four priority corridors for electricity are: Connecting
North Sea wind farms and also the Baltic region with mainland
Europe, unblocking the bottleneck between France and Spain and
strengthening connections to southeast Europe.
Two of the priority gas corridors run north-south along the
eastern and western sides of Europe, and a third aims to carry
Caspian gas to central Europe via Turkey.
"Based on these pre-defined corridors, concrete projects of
'European interest' will be identified in 2012, which should
benefit from financing and faster building permits, including a
time limit for final decision," said a Commission statement.
Utilities were quick to realise the importance of being
classed as "of European interest" and the potential gains from
"The test will be whether the legislative proposals next
year on financing and permitting match the scale and ambition of
that vision," said Christian Kjaer of the European Wind Energy
Association, whose members include Denmark's Vestas (VWS.CO).
ENTSO-E, which represents 42 power grid operators, said it
backed Oettinger's plan "to tackle the barriers hindering
development of electricity networks, namely inefficient and slow
permitting procedures and access to equity and bond capital for
(Editing by Jane Baird)