Listen to the news

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson on Tuesday announced an action plan to overhaul the European Union's 40-year-old electrical infrastructure to meet new renewable energy needs as the energy transition accelerates.

The electrification of transport, together with the connection of new offshore wind and solar parks to the EU energy market, are among the myriad of projects planned for the coming years.

The Commission expects electricity demand in the EU to grow by 60% from this year to 2030.

Grids will need to be adapted to a more digitalised, decentralised and flexible system with millions of rooftop solar panels, heat pumps and local energy communities sharing their resources, more renewable energy at sea, more electric charging vehicles and growing needs for hydrogen production.

"Grids will also need to integrate a large share of variable renewable energy. Grids need to adapt to a more decentralised, digitised and flexible system with millions of rooftop solar panels and local energy communities sharing resources."

The Commission said cross-border infrastructure between Member States should double over the next seven years. The Commission estimates that a total of 584 billion euros will have to be spent on the upgrades in the European energy grid.

In watts, that means a 64 gigawatt (GW) increase in cross-border transmission by 2030, with an initial target of adding 23 GW by 2025, Reuters noted that the 27-member single unit has 93 GW of cross-border power connectors.

The Commission also announced 166 new projects of common interest (PCI), the majority of which are in the field of electricity and hydrogen. Being on the list is a prerequisite for applying for European funding projects in 2024.

"Having the right infrastructure is the last piece of the puzzle," Kadri Simson told reporters.

Half of the projects will upgrade and better connect electricity grids and add new energy storage facilities, as well as cover 12 offshore projects in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Atlantic.

Global companies are calling for governments to phase out fossil fuels by 2040.

"We have a very disturbing experience with processes going on over 10 years," an unnamed official told Reuters, adding:

"Somebody needs to build these things that we keep talking about and bring those stakeholders together. Standardization is a good topic if there is a good understanding so that 2500,<> electricity distribution companies do not invent the wheel one by one."

The same European representative pointed out that the implementation of the plan for the common electricity grid should begin in 18 months.

Leonhard Birnbaum, president of the Eurelectric industrial group, called the plan an "excellent first step".

"However, there is still room for improvement. European networks are facing an increasing number of threats from more frequent extreme weather events. That is why this action plan must recognise the need for more climate adaptation," he said.

Follow the channel on