The European Commission has proposed new legislation that would provide €9.1bn ($12.6bn) to help finance and speed-up development of major new energy infrastructure such as cross-border power links.
The energy funding forms part of a new €50bn Connecting Europe infrastructure facility, which also covers major transport and broadband projects.
Connecting Europe would provide a “common framework” for a variety of mechanisms such as equity investments and debt finance that will be used to support projects, says the commission.
The proposals were welcomed by industry group the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
"€9.1bn of financial support from the EU budget for priority projects is substantially more money than was provided in the past," says EWEA chief executive Christian Kjaer.
He points out that although the facility represents only a small proportion of the €200bn the European Commission has estimated is needed for energy infrastructure improvements, it should – along with a separate proposal for new project bonds – leverage significant additional private investments.
However, Kjaer warns that it is still not clear how the proposed energy funding will be divided between the various demands of electricity, gas, oil and carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure.
“A clear priority should be given to financial support for electricity infrastructure,” says Kjaer. “This will bring clear benefits for Europe's energy security, the internal electricity market and integrating very large amounts of renewable energy."
EWEA says it fully supports the Commisssion’s plans to eliminate unnecessary delays in authorisation procedures for new priority European power transmission lines, including offshore grids.
"It is not necessary for authorisation to build new electricity grids to take over 10 years, and this proposal will help to reduce these delays," says Kjaer.
The new commission procedures aim to limit the time it takes to get planning and other permissions for energy infrastructure projects to a maximum of three years.