The European Commission has presented its energy infrastructure priorities for the next two decades, aimed at making networks fit for the 21st century. In the Communication, the Commission defines EU priority corridors for the transport of electricity, gas and oil. This map of priorities will serve as a basis for future permit granting and financing decisions on concrete EU projects.
The Communication defines a limited number of EU priority corridors for which urgent development is needed to deliver on European Union policy goals of competitiveness, sustainability and security of supply by connecting those member states which are almost isolated from other European energy markets, by massively strengthening existing cross-border interconnections and by integrating renewable energy into the network. Based on these pre-defined corridors, concrete projects of ‘European interest’ will be identified in 2012, which should benefit from EU financing and building permits. In planning and implementing these projects, the Commission favours regional cooperation between countries. It further defines longer-term goals, such as ‘European electricity highways’.
In the electricity sector four EU priority corridors are identified:
* An offshore grid in the Northern Seas and connection to Northern and Central Europe to transport power produced by offshore wind parks to consumers in big cities and to store power in the hydro electric power plants in the Alps and the Nordic countries.
* Interconnections in South Western Europe to transport power generated from wind, solar, hydro to the rest of the continent.
* Connections in Central Eastern und South Eastern Europe, strengthening the regional network.
* Integration of the Baltic Energy Market into the European market.
In the gas sector, three EU priority corridors are identified:
* Southern Corridor to deliver gas directly from the Caspian sea to Europe to diversify gas sources.
* Baltic Energy Market Integration and connection to Central and South East Europe.
* North-South corridor in Western Europe to remove internal bottlenecks and enable best use of possible external supplies.
The EU is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, to increase the share of renewable energy to 20% of final energy consumption and increase energy efficiency by 20%. To meet these energy and climate goals, around Eur200 billion must be invested in energy transport alone, in gas pipelines and power grids. It is estimated than only part of this will come from the private sector, leaving a financial gap of Eur100 billion.