As the number of solar installations soared last year in Southern Europe and the number renewable power installations is overtaking new conventional power,  the EU seeks to limit authorisation procedures for new transmission grid projects to reinforce Europe’s electricity networks. The new time limit is presented in the EU’s €9.1-billion energy infrastructure package as part of the Connecting Europe Facility. According to António Correia de Campos, the European Parliament’s rapporteur this time limit might be to “stringent”.

“We need to relax a bit and look into the viability of performing these tasks to such an early and stringent schedule,” he said.

The EU infrastructure package that was presented last October also includes €45 million to create ‘grids tsars’ with the power to overrule local objections and push through projects that meet “significant delays or implementation difficulties. EU Member States are concerened that such provisions could undermine the concept of subsidiarity.

Although a recent poll suggested wide spread supprot in Europe for electricity grid improvement,  Susanne Nies , the head of energy policy at Eurelectric, said it was important to clarify that a fast transition to improving grid systems involved “developing the system needed to complement the integration of RES [renewables] – interconnections and grids, smart grids, and storage, as well as back up capacity” and that if this could not be done, “you must diminish, if you can not do this for the reason of public opposition of finance, the speed of putting new RES to the system. In addition, all this has to be done as a European approach, which ensures cost efficiency.” In extremis, she was concerned that the EU would remain “sticking to a RES MegaWatt add in logics, sudden or even retroactive changes in support schemes, like in Spain or Estonia, or major system stability concerns including even  blackouts in Europe. These might translate into a loss of support even for renewables development.”