EU moves major funding toward energy strategy

European government adopts list of 195 projects for energy security and climate goals.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Nov. 18, 2015 at 9:06 AM

BRUSSELS, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Nearly 200 energy infrastructure projects across Europe will help diversify parts of the energy sector, while pulling others out of isolation, an official said.

The European Commission said Wednesday it adopted a list of 195 projects aimed at advancing energy security and climate objectives across the region. A budget of $5.75 billion has been allocated to the cause through 2020.

"Modern and reliable energy infrastructure is essential to allow energy to flow freely across Europe," Energy Commissioner Arias Canete said in a statement. "These projects will help us integrate our energy markets, diversify energy sources and routes, and end the energy isolation of some member states."

European leaders have called on members to have at least three different sources of natural gas as the region's sector depends heavily on Russia for supplies. Gas lines from Azerbaijan may help break Russia's grip on the energy sector, though Canete said earlier this year liquefied natural gas, sourced potentially from U.S. shale basins, may present a source of diversity with the right infrastructure in place.

Jerzy Buzek, chairman of European Parliament's committee on industry and energy, said diversification was a central part of energy security efforts. Projects like Russia's Nord Stream gas line system through the Baltic Sea, he said, is emblematic of the "over-dependence on a monopolist external supplier" that abuses "energy as a political weapon."

Russia in the past has cut off energy supplies running through Ukraine to the European economy because of contractual disputes with Kiev.

On the climate front, European leaders in October 2014 agreed to improve energy efficiency by 27 percent, expand the use of renewable energy by 27 percent and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, all based on a 1990-level benchmark, by 2030.

Canete said the list of infrastructure projects will help European economies meet those goals.

"This list of projects will help ensure that our funds serve our goal of securing clean and affordable energy for Europeans."

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