EU energy
commissioner
Guenther Oettinger
 
Brussels, Belgium — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 19 November 2010 – Europe’s energy chief has taken the first step towards defining by 2012 a list of gas and power distribution projects that are likely to benefit from public funds and from fast-tracked building permits.

 Energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger has prioritised four corridors for electricity and three for gas with the aim of binding together the supplies of all 27 European Union countries. “About US$270 billion (R1.9 billion) will be needed to make the plans a reality over the next decade,” he said.

“We’re still using the old territorial limits that existed before the European Union,” he told reporters. “Our current infrastructure is ageing rapidly and is no longer in line with the technical possibilities.”

By integrating national networks, Oettinger hopes to boost distribution of renewable energy and increase countries’ ability to help each other in the event of a crisis, such as the January 2009 cut-off of Russian gas supplies via Ukraine.

The four priority corridors for electricity are: connecting North Sea wind farms and also the Baltic region with mainland Europe; unblocking the bottleneck between France and Spain; and strengthening connections to southeast Europe.

Two of the priority gas corridors run north-south along the eastern and western sides of Europe, and a third aims to carry Caspian gas to central Europe via Turkey.

“Based on these pre-defined corridors, concrete projects of European interest will be identified in 2012, which should benefit from financing and faster building permits, including a time limit for final decision,” said a Commission statement.

ENTSO-E, which represents 42 power grid operators, said it backed Oettinger’s plan to tackle the barriers hindering development of electricity networks, namely inefficient and slow permitting procedures and access to equity and bond capital for network developers.