The highlights of the PCI Energy Days 2022

The third PCI Energy Days, a policy conference and exhibition organised by European Commission on September 19 and 20 2022, were an opportunity to learn more about the practical implementation of Projects of Common Interest (PCI).  The presentation of various projects from the current (5th) PCI list was combined with panel discussions on topics of best practices for accelerating PCIs and the role of the revised Trans-European energy infrastructure (TEN-E) Regulation in upgrading and repowering EU Energy infrastructure.

2022 PCI status and progress

During the event, the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) presented the PCI progress overview. Almost 70% of the PCIs are already in permitting or under construction and will be commissioned within the next five years. The projects in the electricity category are more advanced, however, they encounter delays due to permit granting. Every 4th gas PCI has not yet received planning approval and every 3rd is rescheduled due to demand- and supply-side uncertainties or lack of market interest.

Additionally, the president of The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), Dirk Beckers, emphasised the importance of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme for the implementation of critical PCI projects which are not commercially viable. Since 2011, the CEF programme supported over one-third of the commissioned PCIs.

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Priority 6th PCI list: energy storage

The new corridors and infrastructure categories of the revised TEN-E will increase the security of supply and further implementation of the EU Green Deal and REPowerEU objectives. In particular, the priority of the next PCI list will be energy storage, furthering the integration of RES, smarter grids and renewable gases. Also, the newly established Projects of Mutual Interest (PMI) will enable partnership on projects with third countries (non-member states) that have a significant cross-border impact, such as the development of offshore wind infrastructure in the North and the Black Sea.

The 6th PCI list application

The opening of the 6th PCI list submission process is planned for October with a closing date by 2022 year end. After the Regional Groups selection process, the list is to be adopted by the European Commission in November 2023. The PCI projects from the 6th list will be eligible to apply for funding under the CEF programme from 2024.

In order to be eligible for inclusion in the Union lists, electricity and hydrogen projects should be part of the latest available Union-wide ten-year network development plan (TYNDP). As hydrogen infrastructure is not currently included in the Union-wide TYNDP, that requirement for hydrogen projects should apply only from 1 January 2024. To ensure equal treatment and the transparency of the process, the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO) for Electricity and for Gas, in consultation with the Commission and ACER, plan to publish updated guidelines for the inclusion of projects in their respective Union-wide TYNDP before the PCI application opening date.

Key changes of the revised TEN-E

The revised TEN-E regulation adopted at the end of May 2022 brought several changes in the European energy transition legislation to be aligned with the EU climate neutrality objectives. Only infrastructure projects without acceptable alternative solutions may receive the PCI status, thus the energy efficiency and ‘do no harm’ principles are taken into account when establishing the PCI list.  Also, the new sustainability criterion, in terms of the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, is considered in the process.

The revised Regulation includes new and updated infrastructure categories – 11 priority corridors and 3 thematic areas. The priority corridors include electricity and offshore grid, and new hydrogen and electrolysers corridors. Smart electricity grids deployment, cross-border carbon dioxide network, and smart gas grids are part of the TEN – E priority thematic areas. Besides electricity infrastructure, attention is given to low-carbon and particularly renewable gases such as biogas, biomethane, and hydrogen. Also, the scope of carbon dioxide has been extended to the inclusion of permanent geological carbon storage.  It is important to highlight that natural gas or oil infrastructure is no longer eligible under the revised TEN-E Regulation.

Funding eligibility

Recently introduced PMIs, infrastructure projects with third countries that mutually support climate and energy objectives, will be treated equally as PCIs and can receive grants under the same conditions if meeting the general criteria. Both PCIs and PMIs are eligible to get grants for studies, however for works they must provide evidence for significant positive externalities, receive a cross-border cost allocation decision and demonstrate that the project cannot be financed by the market.

More information on the PCI Energy Days 2022?

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