04 October 2010

Brussels finalising EU energy infrastructure plan

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The European Commission is planning to introduce a fast-track procedure for permitting energy infrastructure projects of European interest
The draft communication on energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and 2030 identifies nine priority projects of European interest to deliver Europe’s energy and climate objectives.

It points to missing links, insufficient market integration and the need to adapt the EU's energy infrastructures to manage an increasing share of intermittent renewable energy.

Europe's energy demand is set to be increasingly met with electricity, while in 2020, 16% of overall electricity generation will come from variable energy sources like solar and wind power, the paper states. The EU's climate and renewable energy targets will therefore require "extensive changes to the power grids" to integrate both distributed renewable sources and centralised power generation into the grid, the paper states.

The Commission estimates that 50,000km of electricity transmission lines will either have to be built or upgraded in the next decade to meet EU objectives on security of supply, renewables integration and market development.

 Moreover, the paper foresees the building of a European "super grid" of very high-voltage lines that will be capable of transporting electricity across the continent to balance intermittent power generation – wind in the North and sun in the South.

"It will have to be woven into the existing alternating current high-voltage grid while allowing the same levels of system reliability and security," the paper says. In the longer run it could also equip Europe with more robust connections to neighbouring countries, it adds.

To put the infrastructure in place, the paper identifies the need to reduce delays in issues permits, which are crippling infrastructure projects. It points out that permit delays for building energy transmission infrastructure are now longer in many member states than delays in building the power plants to feed the lines.

(EurAktiv)

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