The European Commission has opened its next and final call for electricity projects to apply for status as EU Projects of Common Interest, which get access to funding from the bloc and benefit from sped-up permitting procedures.
Developers of power transmission and storage projects who are selected in the fourth round of Projects of Common Interest can apply for funding from the €5.35 billion earmarked for energy projects under the Connecting Europe Facility. The program is running until 2020 and has funneled just over €2.6 billion into energy projects since 2014, many of them cross-border transmission lines.
To be eligible, projects have to be included in European grid operator body ENTSO-E's 10-year network development plans. The deadline for applications is Nov. 15 and the commission said it would soon issue another application window for gas, smart grid, cross-border carbon dioxide network and oil projects.
Projects will have to "address a European need that can be best solved through infrastructure" and a final list of projects that make the largest contributions will be adopted by the commission by the end of 2019 after input from regulators, governments and stakeholders.
In November 2017, the commission published its third list of Projects of Common Interest, which included 106 electricity transmission and storage projects and four for smart grid deployment, as well as 53 gas, six oil and four cross-border carbon dioxide network projects.
The commission in June said it aims to renew the Connecting Europe Facility for 2021-2027 with a budget of €42.3 billion, of which €8.7 billion would be destined for energy infrastructure — over 60% more than under the current program.
The EU has estimated that upgrading the bloc-wide electricity grid and building new power lines would need approximately €140 billion in investment. The European Council wants member states to be able to export at least 10% of the power they produce, which only 17 countries have achieved or are on track to reach by 2020.