Members' Research Service By / October 4, 2023

EU energy infrastructure: Boosting energy security

The energy crisis has changed EU energy infrastructure planning and priorities. Shifting away from Russian fossil fuels required urgent adjustment to energy networks to accommodate new import routes and reduce bottlenecks in existing infrastructure, as well as reflection on the long-term replacement of gas, for instance with renewable electricity, biomethane and green hydrogen.

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Written by Agnieszka Widuto.

In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis, the EU has undertaken a number of steps to develop its energy infrastructure. These included diversifying import routes, developing energy networks and improving cross-border interconnections.

The EU legislative framework on energy infrastructure is based on the Regulation on trans-European networks for energy (TEN‑E). It sets out guidelines for EU cross-border infrastructure, including projects of common interest (PCIs) to improve energy interconnections between countries. Every two years, the European Commission publishes a delegated act with an updated PCI list, then submits this to the European Parliament and Council for approval. The next list is expected in November 2023.

Energy system integration and interconnections help improve energy security and energy systems’ resilience. At EU level, interconnection targets currently only exist for electricity (a general target of 15 % electricity interconnectivity by 2030 and a target of 70 % reserved for cross-zonal capacity by 2025). The EU provides funding for various types of cross-border energy interconnections, for instance from the Connecting Europe Facility and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The EU energy infrastructure is undergoing a transformation in line with the green transition set out in the European Green Deal, and the energy security priorities outlined in the REPowerEU plan. The ten-year network development plans for gas and electricity, prepared by transmission system operators, propose scenarios for infrastructure development and include a list of relevant projects that can then become PCIs. The main challenges identified in the plans are adjustments to the growing share of renewables and increased demand for electrification, the phasing out of fossil fuels, and a new role for biomethane and green hydrogen. Creating an interconnected and resilient EU energy network is an important step to help boost energy security.

Read the complete briefing on ‘EU energy infrastructure: Boosting energy security‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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