The European Commission assures that it is available to support energy interconnections in the Iberian Peninsula, recalling existing EU funds to finance connections for electricity and ‘green’ hydrogen and highlighting the “good example” of the Port of Sines in liquefied natural gas
“The Commission and member states have established high-level regional groups to facilitate the development of infrastructure in a specific region and Portugal, Spain and France belong to the south-western European group. In the REPowerEU [energy] plan, the Commission expressed its willingness to help the Iberian Peninsula to accelerate the implementation of its infrastructures through the work of this regional group,” recalls in a written interview with Lusa agency the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson.
In the written interview given precisely because of Kadri Simson’s several trips in the framework of the current energy crisis, the official recalls that “EU funds from the Connecting Europe Facility are available for projects marked as projects of common interest”.
“Both electricity and hydrogen projects are potentially eligible for this under the revised regulation on trans-European energy networks,” she points out, days before the heads of government of Portugal, Spain and France meet again to discuss the interconnections issue, ahead of this week’s European Council in Brussels, dedicated to the energy crisis.
Regarding REPowerEU, the European Commissioner reminded Lusa that this package “also stressed that it is relevant for the Iberian Peninsula to accelerate the implementation of its electricity interconnection project, covering the Bay of Biscay between France and Spain, interconnection Portugal and Spain, the grouping of internal lines in Portugal and the so-called Pyrenees crossings between Spain and France.
“The Bay of Biscay project has already received EU support of €578 million through the Connecting Europe Facility. The internal lines in Portugal have also both received €250,000 from the Connecting Europe Facility for preparatory studies and, in addition to this mechanism, these projects could also receive funding under the REPowerEU chapter of the recovery and resilience fund,” states Kadri Simson, in the response given to Lusa.
The RepowerEU energy package provides for investment in this type of Iberian interconnections, with Portugal hoping to move forward with old interconnection projects with Spain, in order to reach the rest of Europe, both for electricity and gas (natural and, in the future, hydrogen).
Presented by the European Commission last May, REPowerEU is Brussels’ plan to increase European energy resilience and make the EU independent from Russian fossil fuels before 2030, following the Ukraine war and supply problems.
Spain and Portugal have been calling for increased interconnections because the Iberian Peninsula has few energy interconnections with the rest of the EU.
Asked by Lusa about the Port of Sines, one of the largest in the European Union given the tonnage of cargo handled at the terminals, Kadri Simson points out that its role should “be assessed in a broader perspective, since the Iberian Peninsula continues to have poor connections with the rest of the EU”.
“REPowerEU highlights the potential of the Iberian Peninsula to contribute to the EU’s security of supply”, so “we are aware of plans for the Port of Sines to become one of Europe’s major green centres and naturally welcome such intentions,” she adds.
For Kadri Simson, the Port of Sines is a “good example where the transport of hydrogen to the rest of Europe is planned, making good use of existing port infrastructure” for liquefied natural gas.