A European Commission proposal to invest £220M in trans-European energy infrastructure projects has been given the go-ahead.
The biggest funding pledge of £157M (€187.5M) went to the so-called Balticconnector, for construction of a massive 82km gas interconnector between Estonia and Finland.
Others include £12M for the final project development of the Viking Link, the National Grid’s North Sea electricity interconnector between the UK and Denmark, and £6.8M for a study into compressed air energy storage by the UK’s Gaelectric Energy Storage. Another £24M was allocated for construction of a new 100km 400kV electricity line between Dobrudja and Burgas in Bulgaria.
A total of nine projects were selected following a call for proposals under the EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding support programme. Funding was approved by EU member states on Friday.
European climate action and energy commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Well-connected energy infrastructure is essential to achieving the energy union. This EU support will help fill existing gaps in energy infrastructure, putting us on the path to a truly connected European energy market. This is necessary to strengthen the security of energy supply and a more efficient use of the energy resources and integration of renewables into the grid.”
The second 2016 call for proposals with budget of around £500M (€600M) is currently on-going and will close on 8 November.
The National Grid has said that Britain’s vote to leave the EU will have no impact on plans to build and operate the Viking Link. But it did say: “An exit from the European Union could cause significant uncertainty for the energy sector in the medium and long term, in particular with respect to the UK’s membership of the internal energy market (IEM).
“The IEM provides significant benefits to UK and EU energy consumers by way of harmonised rules facilitating energy transportation and increased interconnection, which allows efficient buying and selling of energy.”
It added: “The IEM also provides a stable framework for UK and European energy companies in which investments can be made. National Grid believes it is vital that the UK retains access to the IEM. Energy must now become a key priority area as the government begins negotiations on how the UK’s exit from the EU will be handled.”
A final investment decision on Viking Link will be taken in 2018, with the aim of it becoming operational in 2022.