To achieve its climate and energy goals, Europe needs to improve cross-border electricity interconnections. Connecting Europe's electricity systems will allow the EU to boost its security of electricity supply and to integrate more renewables into energy markets.
When a power plant fails or during extreme weather conditions, EU countries need to be able to rely on their neighbours to import the electricity they need. Without infrastructure it is impossible to buy and sell electricity across borders. Connecting isolated electricity systems is therefore essential for security of supply.
Reliable connections with neighbouring countries also lower the risk of electricity blackouts, reduce the need to build new power plants, and make it easier to manage variable renewable power sources like solar and wind. For example, surplus renewable energy produced in one country could be used in another country where demand for electricity is high, via new interconnections.
EU electricity interconnection target
The EU has set an interconnection target of at least 15% by 2030 to encourage EU countries to interconnect their installed electricity production capacity. This means that each country should have in place electricity cables that allow at least 15% of the electricity produced on its territory to be transported across its borders to neighbouring countries.
In 2021, 16 countries reported being on track to reach that target by 2030, or have already reached the target, but more interconnections are needed in some regions.
The previous interconnection target of 10% by 2020 stemmed from a call of the European Council in October 2014, but was raised to 15% by 2030 following the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union (2018/1999).
The 15% cross-border capacity ratio corresponds to the import capacity over EU countries' installed generation capacity. The 15% for 2030 interconnection target has been complemented by a number of urgency indicators because of the significant increase of installed capacity in the EU (mostly due to new variable wind and solar capacities with much lower load factors compared to other generation sources), while new interconnection capacities have not increased in the same proportions. Consequently, the analysis of the level of interconnectivity should also consider, besides the 15% interconnection target, indicators of the urgency of action based on price differential in the wholesale market and nominal transmission capacity of interconnectors in relation to peak load and to installed renewable generation capacity. The Regulation also stipulates that each new interconnector is subject to a socioeconomic and environmental cost-benefit analysis and implemented only if the potential benefits outweigh the costs.
Expert group on electricity interconnection
To help achieve the interconnectivity targets, the Commission set up an expert group on electricity interconnection in 2016. The group is made up of 15 leading experts from industry organisations, academia and NGOs, as well as the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) and the European Networks of Transmission System Operators for Electricity and for Gas (ENTSO-E and ENTSOG).
The group gives technical advice and presents reports, including on the interconnection capacity in the EU and public acceptance of the implementation. Following the group’s recommendations, the Commission proposed to implement the 2030 target, as outlined in the Communication on strengthening Europe's energy networks COM (2017) 718 final.
- 2030 framework for climate and energy - outcome of the October 2014 European Council
- Report: Public engagement and acceptance in the planning and implementation of European electricity interconnectors, Expert group on interconnection targets (June 2019)
- Report: Electricity interconnections with neighbouring countries, Expert group on interconnection targets (June 2019)
- Report: Towards a sustainable and integrated Europe, Expert group on interconnection targets (November 2017)