EU to provide €785m in grants to enhance cross-border energy infrastructure

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Technology companies, utilities, research institutions, and governments can apply for grants from the European Commission’s €785 million ($925.6 million) programme aimed at modernising existing or building new infrastructure for cross border renewable energy trading and transmission.

The European Commission has launched a call for key cross-border EU energy infrastructure projects following realisation in the 2021-2027 budget planning, that increase sharing of renewable energy amongst EU member states, enable energy security and help meet the goals of the Green Deal and Fit for 55 climate mitigation policies.

The projects that will be shortlisted for the grants must be listed on the European Commission’s 4th list of Projects of Common Interest, have a significant benefit for at least two EU countries and have the potential to increase competitiveness, enhance the EU’s energy security and contribute to sustainability.

The call for proposals is open until 19th of October whilst the Commission’s decision on the proposals is expected in early 2022.

The grant project is part of the bloc’s €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) investment programme for key European energy infrastructure projects for the period 2021-23, which was adopted in August 2021.

This is the first call for Projects of Common Interest under the new 2021-2027 Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) rules, the European support programme for trans-European infrastructure. Through CEF, the European Commission seeks to ensure the development of high performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European energy, transport and digital services networks.

Between 2021 and 2027, the EU will invest €5.83 billion ($6.8 billion) in energy infrastructure through the CEF initiative.

In August, Estonian grid system operator Elering and Latvia’s utility AST launched a €172 million ($202.1 million) new 360km+ electricity connector to reduce electricity congestion at the borders of the two countries, which caused price differentials over the past years. The project will improve the security of supply, strengthen the grid for the two countries and reduce reliance on the Russian grid as the two countries are integrated into the continental European system.

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However, as Europe prepares to expand the amount of renewable energy connected to its grid and ensure that capacity is made available across member states for energy security, the bloc will also need to accelerate its rollout of digital solutions to address associated challenges.

In August, Elering also announced its partnership with Finland-based TSO, Fingrid, to provide frequency response services for the stability of the Finnish grid. As part of the partnership, Eesti Energia, an energy generator based in Estonia, will participate in Automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve and provide flexible energy through Elering’s transmission network to stabilise the Finnish grid. To meet the rapid changes in energy demand, reserves from Eesti Energia will be automated to allow the provision of electricity in minutes without human intervention.

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