A new 104 billion Euro plan for a pan-European electricity network would cost less than 1% of the consumers’ total electricity bill, say its authors. The plan – drawn up by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) – would bring Europe a step closer to a pan-European grid. But influential renewables group the European Wind Energy Association says that the plan has to be reviewed inthe light of the Commission’s own infrastructure proposals.

The new plan is published as MEPs and member states debate the European Commission’s draft infrastructure package published in November 2011. The package proposes 9.1 billion Euros for funding energy infrastructure projects considered “of common interest” (PCIs) and aims to speed up lengthy grid permitting processes.

‘ENTSO-E’s first official 10-year network development plan is a step towards a pan-European grid. But the relationship between this plan and the Commission’s infrastructure proposals is unclear,’ commented Paul Wilczek, Senior Regulatory Affairs advisor for the EWEA. ‘ENTSO-E’s plan now includes Europe’s 2020 renewable energy targets in the scenario development, an important point that was missing in the previous pilot plan.’

‘This plan must now be taken as a blueprint for the future of Europe’s grids, but it is not yet clear whether the Commission will consider supporting projects not included in ENTSO-E’s plan. EWEA believes viable and useful projects should be supported even if they are not yet part of the latest ENTSO-E plan,’ he said.

ENTSO-E’s plan also finds that one in three planned grid investment projects are currently being delayed due to lengthy permitting procedures – further underscoring the need for faster permitting procedures as outlined in the Commission’s infrastructure package – and that interconnection projects that integrate renewable energies could save the emission of 170 million tonnes of carbon.