EU energy infrastructure proposals 'jeopardise carbon neutrality goals'

Industry group WindEurope warns the European Commission's new revision to energy infrastructure rules may still allow fossil-fuel projects to receive funding

The TEN-E regulations cover cross-border electricity grids across Europe (pic credit: Tennet)
The TEN-E regulations cover cross-border electricity grids across Europe (pic credit: Tennet)

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Newly unveiled plans to align Europe’s energy infrastructure with the European green deal’s target to reach climate neutrality by 2050 leave the door open to fossil fuels, according to industry group WindEurope.

The European Commission’s new revision to the Trans-European Networks — Energy Regulation (TEN-E) aims to assist national governments and companies to better interconnect electricity and gas infrastructure across national borders.

It proposes banning natural gas pipelines from receiving EU funding, and diverting funding to offshore wind connection, electricity grids and hydrogen infrastructure.

The revision confirms that EU projects of common interest (PCI) — which have fast-tracked permitting and can attract financing more easily — should be linked to sustainability.

And it also confirms a role for cross-border offshore wind farms in Europe’s future energy system.

WindEurope noted that such projects can save money and space as well as improve electricity flow across borders.

However, the trade body criticised the commission’s revision for its “vague” definitions of "smart gas" and "low-carbon hydrogen", which it claimed leave the door open to support fossil-fuel infrastructure. 

WindEurope added that member states should address joint planning of generation and transmission assets, which is currently absent from the regulation.

The industry body warned that the regulation currently jeopardises the goals of the European dreen deal, through which the bloc aims to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.

"If the EU wants to make TEN-E fit for the green deal and become a leader on renewable hydrogen, there’s no time for transitional fossil-based solutions”, said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson. 

“And we must get permitting right. It takes way too long to get the ‘fast-tracked’ electricity PCIs permitted and built. These projects are essential for the energy transition.”

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