France-Italy energy link secures hefty EU loan

The Piedmont-Savoy energy connector will boost exchange capacity between Italy and France by 1,200 MW: the same as one nuclear reactor. [Shutterstock]

The European Investment Bank has agreed to lend an Italy-France interconnector project €130 million to support investments.

The EIB on 21 July signed an agreement with Italian energy company group Terna, which will unlock €130 million in funds for a project that will link the French and Italian energy grids.

Terna’s “Piedmont-Savoy” 190km interconnector will link northwest Italy with southeast France, between Piossasco and Grande-Île.

Slated for completion by the end of 2019, the link will be the fourth of its kind between the two countries and will increase exchange capacity by 1,200 MW, roughly the capacity of one nuclear reactor. The Piedmont-Savoy interconnector will also be the world’s longest direct current cable line.

Work begins on French-Italy power interconnector

French power grid operator RTE has started work on a new 190 km power interconnection across the Alps to Italy, in an effort to ease congestion on the existing lines to the largest importer of French electricity.

Terna is working on the underground cable project with its French counterpart, RTE. Total costs are estimated to reach a billion euros.

The European Commission has already identified the plan as a project of common interest (PCI) at EU-level, as the bloc pursues increased energy security and decarbonisation targets.

Exchange capacity between France and Italy will increase by 40% upon completion of the project, as well as boosting electricity market competitiveness, which is in line with overall EU strategy.

Terna CEO Luigi Ferraris said “we are very proud of the contribution that the European Investment Bank has chosen to provide to this strategically important project, which will make Europe’s entire power grid more efficient and safer and help to implement the single electricity market.”

EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco explained that the fund “confirms the EU bank’s engagement in the vital sector of energy networks”. He added that the EIB has supported the Italian network’s upgrade and development plans with €1 billion in recent years.

Commission funds France-Ireland power link that bypasses UK

The European Commission has allocated €4 million to a project that will link the French and Irish electricity grids via an undersea cable. Irish lawmakers have now touted the plan as an “obvious solution” to Ireland’s energy reliance on a post-Brexit United Kingdom.

 

European Commission proposals for an Energy Union include a target for 10% interconnection of electricity grids across borders. The EU executive estimates that about €105 billion are required to upgrade Europe’s ageing electricity infrastructure, with €35 billion needed for cross-border interconnections alone.

Interconnectivity – of both gas and electricity grids – is seen as a key for EU member states to wean off their dependence on Russian gas and manage higher shares of variable renewable energy sources.

Undersea power cable soldiers on despite WWII bombs

A large-scale energy interconnector project linking the United Kingdom to mainland Europe is pressing on, despite the discovery of wartime bombs and mines in the cable’s path.

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