The Union will have to significantly scale up renewable electricity and hydrogen generation to reach a share of more than 80% of electricity production from renewable energy sources in order to deliver the climate target to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least a 55% by 2030.
The European energy infrastructure update and expansion is a key enabler for the green energy transition and must be consistent with the Green Deal objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Therefore, last December 2020 the European Commission adopted a proposal to revise the 2013 Trans-European Energy Infrastructure Regulation (TEN-E). In an opinion drafted by the rapporteur Robert Sorin Negoiță (RO/PES) and discussed today, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) calls on the European Commission to ensure that the new regulation takes into account the needs and specificities of EU regions and that it stimulates sustainable energy security, market integration, fair competition, diversification of energy supply and affordable energy for all.
The CoR invites the European Commission to adopt a more open-minded approach to the definition of cross-border projects in order to consider not only large transmission projects but also local, decentralised and often participative smart grid projects without physical borders that can bring positive effects not only to regional and national systems, but also across different Members States by integrating renewables, solving congestions and avoiding negative externalities. According to the CoR, this a key request to ensure that the new Trans-European Energy Infrastructure Regulation (TEN-E) supports the EU's objective of reaching climate neutrality by 2050.
Robert Sorin Negoiță (RO/PES), Mayor of District 3 of Bucharest Municipality and rapporteur of the opinion on the Trans-European Energy Infrastructure Regulation stated: "The new TEN-E regulation needs to reflect the first ever European Climate Law and the new technological developments. This opinion is a clear call for greening the EU infrastructure projects ('clean hydrogen', e-mobility, smart grids, etc.), that we want competitive, secure and affordable for all. EU rules must enable a real pathway away from reliance on fossil fuels. It is essential to have relevant regional and local representation within Regional Groups in the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) identification and selection process, especially when the potential projects have high impact in our territories. The setting up of one-stop shops is essential in speeding up the PCI permitting process".
In the opinion, the European Committee of the Regions recalled on the key role that regional groups play in the selection process of the Projects of Common Interest (PCI), which are infrastructure projects aimed at helping the EU achieve its climate objectives concerning at least two Member States and contributing to the improvement of market integration and competition.
The CoR calls on the European Commission to make the permit-granting framework of the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) more flexible, to provide a framework for the aggregation of several smaller local projects and to establish a permanent mechanism for regional groups to dialogue with local and regional authorities.
CoR members welcome the update of the PCIs categories, that now primarily support energy infrastructure that consolidates new and existing clean energy technologies (clean hydrogen, electrolysers, offshore grids, smart grid solutions, etc.) and end policy and financial support for fossil fuel projects, which would no longer be included on PCI lists and thus unable to receive CEF funding. The opinion suggests to overcome the current underrepresentation of smart grid projects in PCI list by considering grid operators not only Transmission System operators (TSOs), but also Distribution System Operators (DSOs) and thus widening restrictive definition of smart grids in the current legislation. This would empower citizens to become prosumers and foster energy communities, enable the integration of renewables, support the development of e-mobility and electrification of heating & cooling.
The CoR also reiterates the importance of involving local and regional authorities in the elaboration of National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP).
The EU's assembly of local and regional representatives is pleased to see that growing attention is being given to clean hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels, and welcomes in this proposal a more supportive EU legal framework for market development and infrastructure, which responds to a call from the CoR opinion Towards a roadmap for clean hydrogen.
The CoR stresses the need to create synergies between TEN-E and the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) as the reduction of transport emissions is one of the key priorities of the European Green Deal.
On 15 December 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal to revise the EU rules on the TEN-E Regulation to contribute to the EU emissions reduction objectives by promoting integration of renewables and new clean energy technologies into the energy system.
Berta López Domènech
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