A new EU agreement reached on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure is a long awaited breakthrough for the EU energy sector. The agreement reached between the European Parliament and the EU Council on Tuesday 20 November 2012 includes:
- “Binding deadlines” for building new energy infrastructure set at three years and six months.
- Agreement to identify “priority corridors” for infrastructure, in particular North Seas offshore grid and electricity highways.
The draft law still requires the final approval of the European Parliament and members states, meaning it should come into force around March or April. “This is really a breakthrough and will give a big push to much-needed infrastructure. Rather than waiting up to 12 years or longer for a permit, developers of crucial cross-border infrastructure – such as pipelines or power grids – will have a decision in about 4 years” said EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.
The European Commission says faster approvals will cut administrative costs, as well as moving the bloc closer towards a single energy market. The Commission has said enforcing a single energy market is a priority to encourage the equitable flow of power and gas across borders to stimulate competition, help to reduce prices and make supplies more secure.
“This agreement is very positive. Developing electricity infrastructure is absolutely vital to developing the internal market, improving energy security and integrating large quantities of wind energy. The more than 140 gigawatt of offshore wind power currently being planned by European utilities, developers and governments by 2030 requires a big step forward in offshore grid development. It is now vital that the European Commission’s proposal for 9.1 billion Euros for energy infrastructure is maintained during the negotiations on the 2014 to 2020 EU budget”, said Justin Wilkes, Policy Director at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
By Tom Rowe, EWEA