The Energy Infrastructure Package and its Role for Renewable Energies Development
The EU's energy infrastructure is aging and in its current state not suited to match future demand for energy or the integration of increasing shares of electricity from renewable energy. The proposed new EU energy infrastructure policy aims at changing the way, in which networks are planned and developed across the EU by providing policy and regulatory certainty through a stable and appropriate framework to promote the investments needed to implement EU 2020 energy and climate objectives. It focuses on 12 key infrastructure priorities (North-South interconnections in electricity and gas in Western and Eastern Europe, North Sea Offshore Grid, Baltic energy market interconnection, security of oil supply in Central Eastern Europe, and thematic priorities, such as smart grids, CO2 networks and electricity highways). The proposal covers electricity transmission, storage and smart grids, which will all be necessary to balance demand with increasingly variable supply of electricity, notably from wind and solar technologies. The Regulation proposes a new method for the identification and selection of projects of common interest to implement these corridors. It also provides for measures to streamline and accelerate permit granting procedures by requiring a one-stop-shop approach and a maximum time limit of 3 years for permits. It fixes rules to ensure cost allocation and risk related incentives for cross-border projects and sets out the eligibility rules for access to support under Connecting Europe Facility, which foresees a budget of EUR 9.1 billion for energy infrastructures for the period 2014-2020. As such, this proposed regulation is a vital contribution to the achievement of the EU's 2020 renewables target and beyond towards the long-term decarbonisation of the EU's electricity system.