Cross-border transmission - Europe to push wind-friendly grid

A pan-European grid that will help connect wind to the network is a key element of an EU pledge to push ahead with plans to invest in low-carbon technologies in 2010 despite its failure to strike a binding climate deal in Copenhagen.

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Spain, which took over the six-month rotating EU presidency on January 1, issued a statement in conjunction with its successors, Belgium and Hungary, affirming their intention to seek an agreement to invest in the development of low-carbon technologies and to identify actions that allow for low-carbon energy generation by 2050. Spain said it would also prioritise helping EU member states prepare their national renewable energy action plans (NREAPs) due for submission in June.

This month, the European Commission will publish its plan for this year, setting out clearly what and when action affecting the wind industry is to take place. However, much is already clear and the policy-making is likely to revolve around the improvement of the EU's energy structure, the midterm review of the EU budget and the 2050 energy policy vision.

New infrastructure

To enhance energy security and facilitate the full implementation of the recently agreed renewables directive and the single market for electricity and gas, the EU wants to replace the existing trans-European energy networks (Ten-E) with a new EU energy security and infrastructure instrument.

The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) says the instrument should help put in place the necessary financing for a pan-European grid enabling Europe to progress on a flexible, renewable-energy-friendly grid system. Later this year the commission will publish a blueprint for a North Sea offshore grid, agreeing a timetable of actions to interconnect national electricity grids in north-west Europe and plug in the numerous planned offshore wind and ocean energy projects.

Another boost to the development of offshore wind in Europe should be the planned high-level meeting during the Belgian EU presidency in the autumn to agree a strategic working plan on the future offshore supergrid in the North Sea that nine countries - Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK - signed up recently.

Research and development

Meanwhile, a discussion on the midterm review of the current EU spending programmes should offer the opportunity in 2010 for increasing financing for research and development and the deployment of renewable energy technologies.

Finally, the commission intends to propose a new energy policy for Europe in spring 2010, outlining a policy agenda for 2030 and a vision for 2050. This road map will set out actions to decarbonise the electricity supply, end oil dependence in the transport sector, improve the grid and develop positive energy buildings - which generate so much energy they make a net contribution to the grid. EREC says that it sees this as an important tool to make renewables the mainstream source of Europe's energy system.

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