- No more financial support for natural gas projects
- Funds should support hydrogen, carbon capture and storage
- Projects costs should not increase energy bills for consumers
The updated rules to select which energy projects should be supported aim to make cross-border energy infrastructure sustainable and in line with the EU Green Deal.
The Industry, Research and Energy Committee approved on Tuesday, by 50 votes to 13 and 12 abstentions, its position on the criteria and methodology for selecting energy projects of common interest (PCIs), such as high-voltage transmission lines, pipelines, energy storage facilities or smart grids, which would benefit from fast-track administrative procedures and be eligible to receive EU funds.
Natural gas phase-out
MEPs supported funding the development of hydrogen infrastructure, such as electrolysers, as well as carbon capture and storage. They also insist on the need to support public participation in the selection process. Eligible projects should also drive market integration and increase security of supply.
Projects based on natural gas will no longer be eligible for EU funding. However, a temporary derogation will allow, under strict conditions, natural gas projects from the fourth or fifth list of PCIs to be eligible for a fast-track authorisation procedure.
The selected projects should help member states to move away from solid fossil fuels such as coal, lignite, peat and oil shale, say MEPs. They also propose to fund projects that repurpose existing natural gas infrastructure for hydrogen transport or storage.
Consumers should not be penalised
MEPs reiterate that eligible projects have to be in line with the “energy efficiency first” principle, which stipulates that energy savings are the easiest way to save money for consumers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The cost of projects should ensure that end-users are not disproportionately burdened, especially if that could lead to energy poverty.
Finally, the legislation should not affect a country’s right to determine how to use its energy resources and define its own energy mix.
“The objective of this revision is to align the TEN-E Regulation with the objectives of the European Green Deal. We should also bear in mind, however, that Energy Union priorities remain valid and should still be reflected in the rules governing the support for important energy infrastructure projects. Apart from the general sustainability criteria, the projects would still be evaluated based on their contribution to energy security, market integration and affordability for end users”, said lead MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski (ECR, PL).
MEPs voted to open negotiations with Council with 52 votes to 15 and 7 abstentions. The mandate will be announced during the 4-7 October plenary session. Council agreed its negotiating mandate on the file on 11 June 2021.
A fifth list of PCIs is due to be selected in autumn 2021 under the existing rules, albeit under tighter sustainability criteria. The Commission updates the list of PCIs every two years.
In its resolution of 10 July 2020, Parliament called for a revision of the trans-European networks in energy (TEN-E) regulation, which sets out EU guidelines for cross-border energy infrastructure and outlines the process for selecting projects of common interest (PCI). In December 2020, the Commission adopted a proposal to revise the TEN-E regulation.
PCIs are infrastructure projects considered essential for delivering on EU objectives in the energy field, including improved interconnection between national markets, greater competitiveness, security of supply and promotion of renewables.