The second list of European Projects of Common Interest (PCI) released late last year reflects changes with a greater focus on regional priorities from the earlier first list of 2013.
Key energy infrastructure projects
The new 2015 list (the PCI list is updated every two years) comprises 195 energy infrastructure projects that benefit at least two member states and are seen as key to helping deliver Europe’s energy and climate objectives and to establishing the Energy Union.
These include 108 electricity projects, 77 gas projects, 7 oil projects and 3 smart grids projects. For both electricity and gas these encompass north-south interconnections in Western Europe and in Central Eastern and South Europe and Baltic energy market interconnection. In addition, a priority for electricity is the Northern Seas Offshore Grid interconnecting North Sea countries and for gas the Southern Gas Corridor linking the Caspian region to Europe.
The oil projects are focused on enhancement of the security of oil supply in the Central Eastern European region.
These compare with 248 projects listed in the 2013 list. The reduction is attributed to 13 projects having been completed or commissioned by the end of 2015 and a further 62 projects expected to be completed by the end of 2017, as well as a reduction in the number of PCIs mainly in the gas sector to avoid creating capacity which exceeds the security of supply needs.
Conversely the number of smart grid projects is increased by one, with the Slovenia-Croatia SINCRO.GRID project added to the list with the North Atlantic Green Zone Project between Ireland and Northern Ireland and the Green-Me project between France and Italy.
“Modern and reliable energy infrastructure is essential to allow energy to flow freely across Europe,” states Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Arias Cañete. “These projects will help us integrate our energy markets, diversify energy sources and routes, and end the energy isolation of some member states. They will also boost the level of renewables on the grid, slashing carbon emissions.”
Support for PCIs
The inclusion of the projects as PCIs opens the way for them to benefit from accelerated permitting and environmental assessment procedures and improved regulatory conditions as well as potential financial support from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
A budget of €5.35 billion has been allocated to trans-European energy infrastructure under the CEF from 2014-20 to accelerate the implementation of the PCIs and to make them more attractive to investors. Of this €797 million was allocated in 2014 and 2015 to co-finance PCI studies and construction works. [Engerati-15 European Energy Infrastructure Projects Receive Funding and Another €150 million For European Energy Infrastructure Projects]
With the need to integrate a growing share of renewable energy the PCIs will support this, while also enhancing security of supply.
The trans-European energy infrastructure (TEN-E) guidelines, under which the PCI list is maintained, also allows for the identification of carbon dioxide transportation networks. However, projects in this field haven’t yet reached the level of maturity to be identified as PCIs.
Monitoring of the PCIs is undertaken by the Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER). The next list will appear in 2017.