The projects are mainly electricity and gas transmission lines, many of them interconnections, but also include 13 electricity storage schemes and two smart grid projects, one in France and the other in the UK.
The EC says that the list of initiatives – known as projects of common interest – will “help Member States to physically integrate their energy markets, enable them to diversify their energy sources and help bring an end to the energy isolation some of them are facing”.
By being on the list, the projects will now benefit from accelerated planning and permit granting procedures and may also qualify for financial support under the Connecting Europe Facility, which has a kitty of €5.85bn for the period 2014-2020.
The member states on the list are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
The adoption of the list has been welcomed by European electricity trade group Eurelectric, which said it was a “step towards extending and reinforcing the European electricity network”.
In a statement, Eurelectric said grid infrastructure was “the backbone of the EU energy system” and added that “without stronger networks it will be difficult for Europe to reap the full benefits of the internal energy market, successfully integrate renewables into the system and enhance security of supply”.
However, Eurelectric stressed that policymakers should not lose sight of the aim to create an EU-wide internal energy market.
It said that “several recent market design proposals emanating from EU member states do not sufficiently address interconnector capacity, giving rise to concerns that Europe is moving towards a renationalisation of energy policy”.
“As such, Europe is not facing a simple problem of technical capacity, but a larger one of energy policy and market integration,” said Eurelectric. It added that grid reinforcement via projects on the list “should therefore go hand in hand with broader efforts to integrate wholesale markets, remove regulated end-user prices, integrate renewables into the market, and develop flexible gas markets”.
To see the list of projects in full click here