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Energy: EU invests €150 million in energy infrastructure

Member States today agreed on the Commission’s proposal to allocate €150 million to key trans-European energy infrastructure projects. The bulk of the support will go to projects in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe as well as to projects in the Baltic region. In total, 20 projects were selected following a call for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), an EU funding programme for infrastructure. The selectedprojects will increase energy security and help end the isolation of Member States from EU-wide energy networks. They will also contribute to the completion of a European energy market and the integration of renewable energy sources into the electricity grid.

On the occasion, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “The completion of a truly competitive EU-wide energy market is essential in order to turn the Energy Union into a reality. But without reliable and well-connected energy networks this will not happen. This is why we are investing in projects to integrate the market further and to diversify sources and routes, in particular in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe as well as in the Baltic region.”

In the electricity sector, the agreed list includes feasibility studies for the Celtic interconnector which will link France and Ireland – two previously unconnected markets – through a long-distance subsea cable. The construction of a new 400 kV internal transmission line in Bulgaria will also benefit from CEF financial assistance. This line is part of a cluster of four lines increasing the connectivity between Bulgaria and Greece. Support will also be given to the construction of the Lithuanian part of the Litpol Link, which will integrate the power system of Lithuania and those of other Baltic States further into the grid of Continental Europe, contributing to increasing the interconnection levels of both Poland and the Baltic States.

In the gas sector, the allocated grants will cover, amongst others, studies for the Chiren underground storage expansion project in Bulgaria and works on the interconnection between Poland and the Czech Republic. Funding will also be allocated to innovative studies on how to remove a major obstacle to the free flow of gas in the EU, namely the different practices of odorizing gas in the transmission system. This study will identify solutions to allow bidirectional flows on a major north-south pipeline in Germany. The overall goal of the projects selected for financial support is to enhance the security of supply and improve market integration through the diversification of sources and routes.

Of the 20 proposals selected for funding:
17 relate to studies, such as environmental impact assessments (€30 million), and 3 to construction works (€120 million)
11 are in the gas sector (financial aid worth €80 million) and 9 in the electricity sector (€70 million);
The European Commission proposal to select these projects was supported by the CEF Coordination Committee, which consists of representatives from Member States. Later this month the Commission will formally adopt the list of proposals which will receive financial assistance under CEF-Energy.

A total of €5.35 billion has been allocated to trans-European energy infrastructure for the period of 2014-2020 under the CEF.
In order to be eligible for a grant, a proposalmust relate to a project included in the list of ‘projects of common interest’. The first list was adopted by the European Commission in October 2013. It consists of 248 energy infrastructure projects which, when completed, would each ensure significant benefits for at least two Member States; enhance security of supply, contribute to market integration and further competition, as well as reduce CO2 emissions.

Under the first call for proposals under CEF-energy in 2014, 34 projects were offered €647 million of financial support.
Under the first CEF Energy 2015 call for proposals, 23 eligible proposals were received, requesting, in total, €216 million of financial support. Proposals that were not selected under the first call may apply for funding again under the second call for proposals, which was launched on 30 June with an indicative budget of €550 million. The deadline to submit applications is 30 September 2015.

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