power lines

EU funds giant power line to send Spain’s excess renewable energy to France

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The EU has announced it will fund an international power line between France and Spain in order to take excess renewable energy from Spain to power French homes and businesses.

The EU will provide a €578m (£503m) grant for the project, the largest ever for energy infrastructure.

Construction of the 370-kilometre Franco-Spanish subsea power cable across the Bay of Biscay, west of the Pyrenees mountain range, will include a 280km-long off-shore section and incorporates “technologically innovative” solutions regarding the design of the route over the Capbreton canyon and the French land section, which is fully underground.

This new link will nearly double the interconnection capacity between both countries, increasing it from 2,800MW to 5,000MW, and will bring Spain closer to the 10 per cent interconnection target, up from the current level of 6 per cent.

“Europe’s transition to a clean and modern economy is the goal of the Energy Union,” the European Commission said in a statement.

“Properly interconnected electricity lines and gas pipelines form the backbone of an integrated European energy market anchored on the principle of solidarity.”

The European Commission wants the links to ease the uptake of renewable energy in both countries, reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian gas and help it meet its climate goals.

Europe’s Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said the project would help “end the isolation of the Iberian Peninsula” - long a bugbear of Spanish energy executives, who complain of France’s reluctance to boost cross-border links.

The EU funding comes from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the European support programme for trans-European infrastructure. Along with the aforementioned powerline, it will fund 16 other projects.

This includes SuedOstLink, one of the largest German energy infrastructure projects, which will receive €70m for activities to enable the construction works to start.

The project consists of 580km of high-voltage cables laid fully underground. The power line will create an urgently needed link between the wind power generated in the north and the consumption centres in the south of Germany

The bloc is drafting new renewable energy targets to help meet its climate pledge to cut emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. A report by the Commission showed the share of renewables in energy consumption reached 17 percent in the bloc in 2016.

The EU has set itself a goal of 20 percent by 2020, although each member state has its own national target based on its own economy’s potential.

Eleven EU states have already reached their 2020 targets. The Netherlands, France, Ireland, Great Britain and Luxembourg are furthest away from their goals, according to the Commission’s report.

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