The European Commission has adopted a proposal to revise EU rules on Trans-European Networks for Energy to better support the modernisation of Europe’s cross-border energy infrastructure and achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal
It was hoped that one result of the proposal would be to help facilitate cross-border offshore wind projects, as highlighted prominently in the EU’s Offshore Renewables Strategy.
In a statement, the Commission said Europe’s progress towards a climate-neutral economy powered by clean energy requires new infrastructure adapted to new technologies. It said the TEN-E policy supports this transformation through projects of common interest (PCIs), which must contribute to the achievement of the EU’s emissions reduction targets for 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.
The revised regulation will continue to ensure new projects respond to market integration, competitiveness and security of supply objectives.
Green Deal executive vice-president Frans Timmermans said, “Now is the time to invest in the energy infrastructure of the future. The revised TEN-E rules will allow clean technologies to be plugged in to our energy system – including offshore wind and hydrogen. We need to update and upgrade now to achieve the Green Deal’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050.”
Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said, “The current TEN-E framework has been fundamental in creating a true single energy market, making it better integrated, more competitive and secure.
“But our ambitious climate targets demand a stronger focus on sustainability and new clean technologies. This is why our proposal prioritises electricity grids, offshore energy and renewable gases, while oil and natural gas infrastructure will no longer be eligible for support.”
The new TEN-E Regulation will contribute to the EU emissions reduction objectives by promoting integration of renewables and new clean energy technologies into the energy system. It will continue to connect regions currently isolated from European energy markets, strengthen existing cross-border interconnections and promote co-operation with partner countries. It will help timely delivery of cross-border infrastructure by proposing ways to simplify and accelerate permitting and authorisation procedures.
The Commission’s proposal includes ending support for oil and natural gas infrastructure and a new focus on offshore electricity grids with provisions facilitating more integrated onshore and offshore infrastructure planning and implementation through the introduction of offshore one-stop-shops.
It also includes a new focus on hydrogen infrastructure including transport and certain types of electrolysers; upgraded rules to promote the uptake of smart electricity grids to facilitate rapid electrification and scale up renewable electricity generation; provisions on smart grid investments for integrating clean gases into the existing networks; and continued attention to the modernisation of electricity grids and storage and carbon transportation networks.
However, WindEurope has criticized the plan because it feels it does not go far enough enabling joint planning of generation and transmission assets.
“In its Offshore Renewable Energy strategy the EU committed to scale-up offshore wind to 300 GW by 2050 from 25 GW today," WindEurope said.
It noted that recent council conclusions on offshore wind see the need to further integrate the EU’s internal energy market through enhanced interconnectivity among member states.
This would be achieved using hybrid offshore wind projects which link two or more countries and support the integration of growing volumes of renewable energy into the European electricity market.
WindEurope said the TEN-E revision confirms the essential role of hybrid offshore wind projects, but does not provide for joint planning of generation and transmission assets, as had been hoped.
It said the Commission had missed an important chance to clearly prioritise renewable electricity and renewable hydrogen infrastructure.
Instead, it said, the TEN-E revision leaves the door open for fossil fuel projects, undermining the European Green Deal objective of climate neutrality.
Hydrogen Europe welcomed publication of the TEN-E revisions and said the legislation “represents a first step towards the realisation of the European Union’s ambition to develop a hydrogen economy and firmly position the EU as a global frontrunner on hydrogen.”
It noted that all future infrastructure investments must be ‘fit-for-purpose’ and fully aligned with the objectives of the European Green Deal. “Meeting the EU objective of achieving climate neutrality in 2050 will require massive scale up in renewables, energy efficiency and clean hydrogen,” said Hydrogen Europe. “Deployment of clean hydrogen at large scale is contingent on the availability of an appropriate infrastructure to transport hydrogen from its point of production to demand centres locally, regionally and internationally.”
Hydrogen Europe secretary general Jorgo Chatzimarkakis said, “Alongside renewables, hydrogen is the other leg of the energy transition. We are pleased to see that the promise of the EU’s hydrogen strategy is now beginning to be translated into concrete legislation.
“Hydrogen will play a key role in the energy transition, replacing coal, oil and natural gas and complementing renewable electricity. We stand ready to engage with all relevant stakeholders to work together to build the energy system of the future, one in which ‘hydro-genewables’ and the necessary infrastructure will have a vital role to play.”