The work on Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) is coordinated by regional groups, dedicated to each of the following types of energy infrastructure: electricity, offshore grid development, hydrogen and electrolysers, smart electricity grids, smart gas grids and CO2 networks, in line with the scope of the revised Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) Regulation. The work to date of the regional groups on the 5th PCI list for electricity, gas and smart electricity grids can be accessed at a dedicated public database.
PCI identification and selection process
Projects are selected as PCIs on the basis of 5 criteria. They must
- have a significant impact on at least 2 EU countries
- enhance market integration and contribute to the integration of EU countries' networks
- increase competition on energy markets by offering alternatives to consumers
- enhance security of supply
- contribute to the EU's energy and climate goals. They should facilitate the integration of an increasing share of energy from variable renewable energy sources.
On 17 October 2022, the Commission kicked off the process for establishing the first Union list under the revised TEN-E Regulation with the first Cross-regional meeting on Projects of Common Interest and Projects of Mutual Interest. On the same day, the Commission opened the submission window for projects under all infrastructure categories. The call for applications will run until 15 December midnight. All meeting documentation related to the TEN-E regional and thematic group meetings is available online. Before the start of the process, the Commission held an informative session as part of the consultations on the cost-benefit analysis methodologies for the following infrastructure categories: hydrogen, electrolysers, smart gas grids, smart electricity grids, CO2 networks and energy storage.
A new list of PCIs is established every 2 years. Promoters of projects that are potentially eligible for PCI status can submit an application to the corresponding regional groups. The regional groups assess the applications regarding their compliance with and relevance to the specific PCI selection criteria as defined under Article 4 of the Regulation. Through this assessment, the PCI candidates are ranked by the Decision-Making Bodies of the regional groups. This results in a regional list of proposed PCIs, which the Commission adopts as an EU-wide list by means of a delegated act, and submits the list to the European Parliament and the Council. These institutions have 2 months to oppose the list, or they may ask for an extension of 2 months to finalise their position. If neither the Parliament nor the Council rejects the list, it enters into force. The Parliament and the Council cannot request amendments to the list.
Electricity regional groups
There are 3 electricity infrastructure corridors identified as priority by the revised TEN-E regulation.
- North-South electricity interconnections in Western Europe (‘NSI West Electricity’)
- North-South electricity interconnections in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe (‘NSI East Electricity’)
- Baltic energy market interconnection plan in electricity (‘BEMIP electricity’)
These require urgent infrastructure development in electricity to connect regions currently isolated from European energy markets, strengthen existing cross-border interconnections, and help integrate renewable energy.
Dedicated regional groups for each of these electricity corridors have been established to propose and review the candidate PCIs, which contribute the most to achieving EU’s energy and climate objectives by modernising the existing grid.
There are 5 offshore grid corridors identified as priority by the revised TEN-E regulation.
- Northern Seas offshore grids (NSOG)
- Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan offshore grids (BEMIP offshore)
- South and West offshore grids (SW offshore)
- South and East offshore grids (SE offshore)
- Atlantic offshore grids
These aim to support the necessary development of offshore renewable energy with the aim of reaching at least 300 GW of offshore wind generation installed in line with the Commission’s offshore renewable energy strategy, set out in a communication published in November 2020. With this approach, the revised TEN-E Regulation should move away from the project-by-project approach in offshore infrastructure planning towards an integrated and coordinated comprehensive approach that considers the offshore renewable potential of each sea basin, other uses of the sea and environmental protection.
Hydrogen regional groups
There are 3 infrastructure gas corridors identified as priority by the revised TEN-E which will make up the future EU hydrogen network through new dedicated hydrogen transmission and storage infrastructure or repurposed from natural gas.
- Hydrogen interconnections in Western Europe (HI West): Concerned EU countries areBelgium, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland. Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria and Portugal.
- Hydrogen interconnections in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe (HI East): Concerned EU countries areBulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.
- Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan in hydrogen (BEMIP Hydrogen): Concerned EU countries are Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland and Sweden.
For each of these priority corridors, a dedicated regional group has been established to propose and assess the candidate PCIs, which would contribute the most to achieve EU’s energy and climate policy objective, by modernising the existing grid.
Smart electricity grids priority thematic group
The deployment of smart electricity grids has been identified as one of the 3 priority thematic areas that relate to the entire EU.
Smart grid evaluation process
The group selects smart grid projects to be awarded PCI status after an evaluation process. The decision-making members come from EU countries and the European Commission, but it also includes representatives of national regulatory authorities, transmission system operators (TSOs) and distribution system operators (DSOs). In addition, it invites interested stakeholders to participate.
The methodology used for identifying and evaluating PCI candidates in the area of smart grids has been set out by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in the Assessment framework for project evaluations:
- Evaluation report of smart grid projects submitted for the fourth PCI list in 2019
- Evaluation report of smart grid projects submitted for the third PCI list in 2017
- Evaluation report of smart grid projects submitted for the second PCI list in 2015
- Evaluation report of smart grid projects submitted for the first PCI list in 2013
Smart grids selected as PCIs will benefit from higher levels of support from regulatory authorities through inclusion in national network development plans, political recognition, and eligibility for EU financial assistance in the form of grants for studies and works, as well as innovative financial instruments under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
Only PCIs are eligible for funding from the CEF, as per the categories set out in the TEN-E Regulation (Annex II). Smart grid projects may also profit from funding via Horizon 2020 and the Cohesion fund.
CO2 networks thematic group
The development of cross-border networks for CO2 transport and storage has been identified as one of the three priority thematic areas that relate to the entire EU.
A dedicated regional group has been established to propose and assess candidate projects in the area of carbon dioxide transport networks, which contribute the most to achieving EU’s energy and climate policy objective by modernising the existing grid.
Smart gas grids priority thematic group
The existing natural gas grid and ongoing PCIs are suitable to transport biomethane. However, the uptake of renewable and low-carbon gases needs to be facilitated. The revised TEN-E Regulation introduces a new investment category, smart gas grids, to enable the introduction of these new gases into the grid to replace natural gas.
This investment category is not aimed at creating additional cross-border transmission pipelines. Instead, smart gas grids will cover network upgrades necessary for the integration of renewable and low-carbon gases, notably through the inclusion of digital systems and components integrating information and communications technology, control systems and sensor technologies and equipment enabling reverse flows of renewable, and low-carbon gases from the distribution to transmission level.
On 7 October 2022, the Commission will organise an informative session to discuss, amongst others, a draft methodology for assessing costs and benefits of smart electricity and gas grids projects.