PIC Projects – imaxe https://www.ree.es/es/actividades/planificacion-electrica/planificacion-europea
Last Friday the European Commission presented its 5th list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI) which sets out the infrastructure for the future energy needs of the European Union; the Juncker Plan is the means by which this construction will be financed. This ambitious energy plan to interconnect member states, will gradually integrate the energy systems of member states and it assumes that it will increase renewable power generation, guarantee supply and reduce system costs. As these projects are defined as being for the common good, there are a series of advantages for the promoters of these projects, ranging from the speeding up of procedures and relaxation of deadlines, to partial financing of these projects.
In the same way that the diameter of a pipe tells us the quantity of liquid it can move, the capacity of an electrical grid defines the amount of energy it can transport. Consequently, interconnection would increase the capacity of the grid to absorb the new renewable energy generated in member states and, by connecting the electricity systems of different states, would give producers access to all European markets. However, instead of establishing specific interconnection capacity targets between states, according to the needs and capacities of each country, the EU has arbitrarily imposed that this capacity must in all cases be 15% of the power installed in each state. In this perverse way, far from limiting a country’s energy production to the consumption of that state, any increase in power generation will require a corresponding increase in interconnection capacity; this is a real vicious circle that threatens to be never ending and hypocritically flies in the face of the principles of prioritizing energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption, and eliminating waste as proclaimed by the EU.
The creation of such a large continental grid means that there will be severe impacts associated with these mega-projects and these repercussions will have to be borne by territories far away from those countries that promote the construction of these projects and that will benefit from the energy transported.
This is putting a green spin on a classic extractivist model that paves the way for the implementation of an unprecedented new cycle of pillage of our natural resources. Not only is this due to the quantity of raw materials required by future renewable infrastructure, but also as a consequence of the specialization of individual regions; all this gives credence to the existence of a false energy transition that contemplates imposing no limits on increases of its citizens energy consumption.
As if that were not enough, this energy transition model, which is centred on the ominous figure of the mega-project, unleashes an unprecedented attack on biodiversity just at a time when the EU stands as a guarantor of adaptation to climate change. And so, while cities, which are voracious consumers of energy, ignore their responsibility in this transition, mega wind and solar power plants are forced on the rural world in the form of a perfect storm. Such an approach creates an impenetrable partition between the consumer and the environment, as well as having invisible deep geopolitical implications about levels of consumption levels that will be impossible to satisfy using renewable sources alone, a point of view that is being supported by an ever growing number of experts. In other words, on the basis of the old adage of out of sight, out of mind, the EU is trying to justify its plan, which will allow citizens to consume as much energy as they please for the greater glory of private enterprise, which in the dim and distant past turned energy into a commodity and which now demands, in spite of all the signs of imminent shipwreck, that the orchestra continues to play loudly, while the deckchairs are rearranged.
It is also paradoxical that, in order to ensure supply, the EU is backing the construction of a small number of high-powered connections. However experience tells us that networks based on high capacity power transmission lines are not very resilient – especially in a context of climate and energy crisis – and such lines can give rise to blackouts of international dimensions.
If the objective is to increase the resilience of electricity networks, the obvious conclusion to be drawn is that it makes much more sense to opt for an integrated distribution grid that brings new renewable energy generation closer to the insatiable energy consumption of the urban world. This model, as opposed to the centralized one they are trying to force on us, would be more efficient and would take advantage of the inherent virtues of renewable energies, including the possibility of returning energy to the people as a common resource and a human right, and not as a commodity subject to the whims of the market.
Another salient question is whether this integration of electricity systems would really reduce electricity costs and, if so, how this potential reduction would be distributed. As we indicated earlier, interconnection allows for greater integration of renewables at a European level. In this way the cost of electricity could be reduced if they succeed in replacing the most expensive methods of generating electricity, such as natural gas plants, which are currently the cause of high electricity prices. However, any potential cost reductions within the EU have very different ramifications when we analyse the local reality of each of the renewable production zones.
Let us now look at the other side of the coin, the possibility of using interconnection to distribute dirty coal-fired electricity throughout Europe. In fact, there are already studies that warn that an increase in interconnection would only result in an increase of the European Union’s emissions.
Additionally, the investment required for the construction of these electricity highways has to be borne by the country in which this infrastructure is built. In most cases, consumers will have to pay for it via their electricity bill.
The current European agenda seriously jeopardizes the possibility of a just and reasonable energy transition that responds to the eco-social challenges we face. The EU has turned a deaf ear to the necessary limits that a transition to renewable energy entails. They have decided to sacrifice Southern Europe in their attempt to satisfy both the insatiable hunger for cheap energy on the part of the urban world and the ever growing demands for profit on the part of private enterprise.
In recent years, movements against wind farm and photovoltaic projects have sprung up all over Europe. In Greece there is a movement around the ht #savethemountains . In Spain they are using #RenovablesSíPeroAsíPeroNoAsí and #aldeaslibresdemacroeólicos.
In France they are grouped under the ht #éoliennes . As you may know a French court has recognized that the «turbine syndrome» is real and that a Belgian couple, suffering from this disease, is right: the wind farm near their home causes them health damage. For this reason, the two have received more than 110,000 euros in compensation from the judge in Toulouse.
It is urgent that we press the European Parliament to reject this 5th list of PCIs and that as soon as possible they formulate an energy transition plan that, as promised by the EU in their Winter Package, prioritizes the reduction of consumption, the efficient use of energy, and individual energy self-sufficiency. Furthermore we are firm in our belief that they should allocate public money to make energy once again a resource belonging to all of us not just to a privileged few.