Electricity: MEPs urge all EU countries to interconnect their national grids 

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Fully integrating the EU electricity market could cut bills by at least €2 per MWh, and thus save users up to €40 billion a year by 2030, say MEPs in a non-legislative resolution voted on Tuesday. But to achieve this, EU countries need to invest €150 billion to interconnect their national grids, they add.

"A better interconnected EU electricity grid is key, both for more renewables and thus achieving climate goals, but also to make Europe more competitive through cheaper electricity prices", said rapporteur Peter Eriksson (Greens/EFA, SE).

Investing enough to ensure that at least 10% of the electricity produced by each EU member state’s power plants can be sent across its borders to neighbours should create a strategically “more resilient and robust network", says the text. The current EU target of 10% by 2020 target is "valuable", but "does not always reflect the market situation, as "twelve member states...remain below (the 10% target) and are thus largely isolated from the internal electricity market", it adds.

Regional cooperation

  • Baltic States: MEPs are concerned that "networks are still synchronised with, and dependent on, the Russian electricity system”. This “impediment for a truly integrated and properly functioning European electricity market”, necessitates “a rapid synchronisation of their electricity networks with the Continental European Network”.

  • North Sea region: coordinating the planning and building of a regional offshore grid infrastructure, market access and reserve sharing in this region could lead to cost savings of €5-13 billion per year by 2030 through a better integrated regional market", say MEPs, noting that the region has the potential to generate over 8% of Europe's power supply by 2030.

  • Central-Western Europe: "the shared electricity market between Austria and Germany" is "a success model", say MEPs, who call, for "an enlargement of the bidding zone”.;

  • Central and South-Eastern Europe: here "cooperation and coordination on long-term planning and building of a regional grid infrastructure must go beyond the EU in order to include non-EU Western Balkan countries and Turkey".

  • Iberian peninsula: "The current interconnection capacity between the Iberian Peninsula and mainland Europe is too low and that the projects included in the first Projects of Common Interest list were not sufficient to achieve the interconnection target in 2020", say MEPs. They ask the EU Commission "to carry out a study of the benefits of the interconnection (...) with France, the UK, Italy and countries on the south bank of the Mediterranean".

Complementary targets

MEPs ask that by 2030 the latest, "ambitious and evidence-based complementary interconnection targets" should be agreed by region, based on various parameters, as "open access and the availability of interconnectors" are "imperative" to remove barriers to the functioning of the EU electricity market.

Procedure:  Non-legislative resolution

  • The EU accounts for 53% of world energy imports, at an annual cost of €400 billion 
  • In Europe wholesale electricity prices are 30% higher, and wholesale gas prices over 100% higher, than in the US 
  • Source: European Commission press release 25.02.2015