Am­bi­tious in­ter­con­nec­tion plans could trans­form Europe

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ilias Tsagas

Europe re­cently ap­proved stud­ies for energy in­fra­struc­ture plans that could trans­form its energy mar­ket and boost re­new­able in­vest­ments. Elec­tric­ity in­ter­con­nec­tion plans specif­i­cally be­tween U.K. and France, and Greece, Cyprus and Is­rael stand out.

The EU’s In­no­va­tion and Net­works Ex­ec­u­tive Agency (INEA) has awarded the first 15 of a to­tal 34 energy in­fra­struc­ture projects that will re­ceive a cu­mu­la­tive fund­ing of EUR 647 mln to cover ex­penses for their pre­lim­i­nary stud­ies (e.g. reg­u­la­tory or en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies).

The projects, said the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, aim to up­grade ex­ist­ing and de­velop new energy trans­mis­sion in­fra­struc­ture re­quired to pro­mote Europe’s energy se­cu­rity and “will also sup­port the de­ploy­ment of large-scale re­new­able energy”.

All 34 plans are part of the 248 Projects of Com­mon In­ter­est (PCIs) se­lected by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to step up the bloc’s in­ter­nal energy mar­ket. PCIs may ben­e­fit from ac­cel­er­ated li­cens­ing pro­ce­dures, im­proved reg­u­la­tory con­di­tions and ac­cess to fund­ing to­talling EUR 5.85 bln be­tween 2014 and 2020. The first tranche of fi­nan­cial sup­port (EUR 647 mln) al­lo­cated to PCIs re­gards the 34 projects is to be awarded by INEA.

PCIs are di­vided into three broad cat­e­gories: elec­tric­ity in­fra­struc­ture, gas in­fra­struc­ture and smart grids. Of the re­cently awarded projects, the fol­low­ing two stand out for their am­bi­tion and po­ten­tial ef­fec­tive­ness in the elec­tric­ity sec­tor.

France’s pol­icy de­ci­sion to re­duce the share of nu­clear power in the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion mix from 75% to 50% by 2025 means the ElecLink pro­ject will prove ben­e­fi­cial.

Presently, France and the U.K. con­nected via an ex­ist­ing 2 GW link.

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The EuroAsia In­ter­con­nec­tor is largely am­bi­tious in that it aims to in­ter­con­nect Europe with Asia, ex­tend­ing the Euro­pean energy mar­ket be­yond its borders. It can also be hugely ef­fec­tive for Is­rael and Cyprus since both coun­tries are energy is­lands; nei­ther Is­rael’s nor Cyprus’ elec­tric­ity net­works are linked to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

The in­ter­con­nec­tor will also ben­e­fit Greece. The coun­try’s pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion had fought for the pro­ject to be in­cluded in the PCIs list say­ing that it could strengthen it geopo­lit­i­cally and im­prove the econ­omy, in­tro­duc­ing com­pe­ti­tion in the energy mar­ket, and thus re­duc­ing the over­all elec­tric­ity costs.

How­ever, Greece’s new gov­ern­ment does not seem quite so en­thu­si­as­tic. The re­cent INEA de­ci­sion was ig­nored by the press of­fice of the Greek energy min­istry, which pub­lishes press re­leases on var­i­ous mi­nor is­sues. Greece’s new ad­min­is­tra­tion is also very pro­tec­tive of the na­tional elec­tric­ity in­cum­bent, the PPC/DEH util­ity, and fights the Com­mis­sion plans for in­creas­ing energy com­pe­ti­tion.

Cur­rently, the EuroAsia In­ter­con­nec­tor seems more po­lit­i­cally trou­bled than tech­ni­cally. But since gov­ern­ments con­tin­u­ously change and Greece specif­i­cally ap­pears to have na­tional elec­tions ev­ery two years or so, this largely sig­nif­i­cant plan may likely ma­te­ri­alise.

(Source: www.pv-mag­a­zine.com)

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