Friday, 14 November 2008

Europe's energy security and what it means for Scotland

Implications for Scotland

Green Paper on Energy Networks

Of particular interest to Scotland is the publication of a Green Paper on Energy Networks. This sets out 6 priority infrastructure projects for the EU, including a Blueprint for a North Sea Offshore Grid to interconnect national electricity grids in northwest Europe and planned offshore renewables projects. This will be issued in 2009 with steps and timetables for interconnecting the various planned offshore projects.

It also proposes a future European Supergrid of which the North Sea Grid would form a key building block.

A number of other proposals are made for the development of EU-wide energy networks, building on the existing Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E) approach and increasing funding and leverage through the role of the EIB, Structural Funds, and the new Energy Security and Infrastructure Instrument, which is to replace the current TEN-E budget and is limited at only 22 million euro per year.

It recognises the 'significant role' of offshore wind in delivering renewable energy targets, as well as improving security of supply and solidarity.

The paper also suggests that the EU needs to consider how it will promote investment in EU-wide transportation and storage infrastructure for CO2 as part of CCS, possibly through widening the scope of TEN-E.

The paper highlights the important role of research, planning and coordination in delivering the infrastructure at the EU level, and reinforces the role of the EU offshore wind Grid Coordinator, the EU Industrial Initiative on Electricity Grids, and the forthcoming Knowledge and Innovation Communities for sustainable energy.

Finally, it calls for a new approach to planning, suggesting that EU priority projects could be included in national strategic plans and in the future priorities of regulators such as Ofgem and system operators. The public consultation is open for views until 31 March 2009.

Communication on Offshore Wind Energy

This sets out the significant potential for the development of offshore wind resources to meet the EU's 2020 targets, and points out some of the barriers to its development (including grid integration). The paper recognises that there is significant capacity for expansion of offshore wind in the North Sea. It suggests that offshore wind could represent more than 30% of electricity production from renewable sources by 2020.

It sets out the Commission's view of the way forward, including on research, where greater significance will be given to offshore wind in the Strategic Energy Technology Plan, FP7 and Intelligent Energy Europe.

It also calls on Member States with offshore resources to adopt National Action Plans that would spell out the expected contribution of offshore wind to the 2020 target and to implement maritime spatial planning, including proper designation of marine protected areas under the Birds and Habitats directives.

Finally, it says that the large scale integration of offshore wind in the electricity grids should be one of the key issues for follow-up to the green paper on networks.

View of the Scottish Government

The Scottish Government has also welcomed the publication of the Commission's Strategic Energy Review which identifies a North Sea Offshore Grid as an infrastructure priority. The Energy Review is of great importance and significance to Scotland with our potential to generate up to 25 per cent of wave, wind and tidal power for the whole of Europe. What this shows is that Scotland is well placed to play a key role in ensuring the security of Europe's energy supplies in future.

The European Parliament's powerful Energy Committee, on which Alyn sits as an alternate member, is currently considering its response to the Commission's Second Strategic Energy Review. The Parliament's view is being drafted in the Energy Committee by the French Liberal MEP Anne Laperrouze with opinions from the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Environment Committee also expected. The Energy Committee is scheduled to adopt its report on 20 January with all MEPs voting on the final resolution in plenary in Strasbourg on 18 February. Undoubtedly we will try to put down some amendments and ensure that Scotland's energy interests are foerfront in the discussions here.

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