BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will publish a list of priority energy infrastructure projects on Friday with an emphasis on improving power supplies, better integrating renewable sources and helping Ireland cope with Brexit.
The list, seen by Reuters, comprises 173 projects that will be entitled to accelerated planning permission as well as EU funding. It includes twice as many electricity as gas projects, an EU source said.
It is part of the European Commission’s drive to improve power and gas connections across the EU’s 28 member states by better distributing available supplies, bringing down prices and trying to minimise disruptions.
The list reflects concerns over dependence on Russia, which supplies about a third of the EU’s oil and gas, and how to make the best use of the greater share of power coming from wind and solar energy.
It also aims to address Ireland’s worries about its security of supply after Britain quits the EU in March 2019, leaving Ireland with no electricity links to the bloc.
“Only a fully interconnected market will improve Europe’s security of supply and give consumers more choice,” Europe’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told Reuters.
“As highways do not stop at national borders, neither should pipes and cables.”
Among the projects is a planned subsea cable linking Ireland to France, known as the Celtic Interconnector, to be built by 2025 by French electricity grid operator RTE and Ireland’s EirGrid.
To address grid bottlenecks in Germany that have overflowed into neighbouring member states, the EU is also promoting the Sudlink between the north and south of the bloc’s biggest economy.
Also listed is a new subsea cable called the COBRAcable - for COpenhagen BRussels Amsterdam - to help spread wind energy generated in Denmark. That has received investment from Dutch power grid operator TenneT and Danish counterpart Energinet.dk.
A new electricity link through the Bay of Biscay to nearly double the interconnection capacity between Spain and France is seen as another way of encouraging investment in renewables.
For gas, the EU has spotlighted a new gas pipeline between the two countries, the Midi-Catalonia (Midcat) interconnector.
For the first time, the list includes four cross-border projects to develop infrastructure for carbon capture and storage facilities that aim to help energy-intensive industries reduce their impact on global warming, the source said.
Many of the projects - also called projects of common interest because they benefit more than one member state - are in central and southeastern Europe, where dependency on Russian energy exports is most marked.
In addition to gas links, the EU is pushing to reach a deal to decouple the three Baltic states’ electricity grids from Russia.
Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel @AdeCar; Additional reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Mark Potter