On 28 November, the European Commission presented a series of measures aimed at accelerating the deployment of electricity grids in Europe. As a pioneer in the field of ecological transition, Europe is adopting a strong ambition in an area that is essential to the implementation of the Green Pact to support the development of renewable energies and the decarbonisation of the economy. Putting an end to Russian fossil fuel imports and achieving a 42.5% share of renewable energies by 2030, as set out in the REpowerEU plan (presented in May 2022 in response to the energy crisis caused by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict), requires Europe’s electricity infrastructure to be modernised and strengthened.
BUILDING NETWORKS THAT ARE MORE DIGITISED, DECENTRALISED AND FLEXIBLE
To meet the need to decarbonise energy production, transport, buildings and industry, electricity consumption in the European Union is set to increase by around 60% between now and 2030. With 40% of existing distribution networks over 40 years old, the European Commission estimates that 584 billion euros will be needed to adapt and extend electricity networks in order to achieve a more digitised, decentralised and flexible system.
The main aims of the Action Plan include:
- Accelerating the implementation of projects of common interest (a European mechanism designed to promote innovation in strategic industrial areas of the future through transnational projects)
- Improving long-term network planning to meet increased demand for renewable energies and electrification, including hydrogen, in the energy system
- Introduce regulatory incentives through forward- looking investment and cross-border cost sharing for offshore projects
- Encouraging better use of networks by increasing transparency and improving network tariffs to make them smarter and more efficient, and by deploying innovative technologies and solutions
- Improving access to finance for network projects by providing greater visibility of opportunities in EU funding programs
- Encourage the acceleration of permitting procedures for the deployment of networks, in particular by providing technical support to the authorities and involving stakeholders and communities to a greater extent
- Improve and secure network supply chains
- This ambition should lead Europe to double its annual investment in electricity networks (from €40 billion to €80 billion). In parallel with this plan, the European Commission has also adopted the first list of projects of common interest. Of the 166 projects selected, 85 concern electricity networks, with commissioning scheduled between 2027 and 2030, and 65 concern hydrogen.
OUR EXPOSURE TO EUROPEAN ELECTRICITY NETWORKS
We currently hold positions in two companies with direct exposure to investments in electricity networks in the European Union:
- Iberdrola, a world-class Spanish group active in networks (transmission and distribution) and renewable energy generation; 47% of its regulated network asset base is in Europe (around €19bn).
- Prysmian, an Italian group that is the world leader in cables for energy and telecoms, generating around 50% of its sales in Europe; the group has an order book of almost €10bn for infrastructure projects to supply high-voltage cables (connecting offshore and onshore wind farms, solar farms, recharging infrastructure and energy storage).