4i-TRACTION: Case study: Integrated Infrastructure Planning

Integrated infrastructure planning
This report presents a case study for the Integrated Infrastructure Planning policy instrument, focusing on transnational energy infrastructure. Timely roll-out of the required energy infrastructure is a key factor in the transition to a climate-neutral energy system and the achievement of climate goals. This requires proper and integrated infrastructure planning processes, including at European level.

Benefits of transnational energy infrastructure
The realisation of transnational energy infrastructure requires significant investments, but also creates benefits for the energy system. The main benefit of investing in transnational energy infrastructure is higher utilisation of renewable energy production. This reduces curtailment and gas-based generation, cuts greenhouse gas emissions and increases security of supply within the EU. If investment planning is carried out efficiently, the benefits of investing in transnational energy infrastructure outweigh the costs and consequentially lead to lower overall energy costs and total energy system costs.

Current policies are inadequate
The report describes current EU policies regarding transnational energy infrastructure and discusses which gaps exist in relation to the pursuit of a climate-neutral European energy system. Under current policies and governance, the planning for transnational energy infrastructure takes place mainly at Member State level. While some processes take place at EU level to incorporate a pan-European view on the roll-out of interconnections, these are either non-binding or non-decisive. All formal competences for the planning and realisation of transnational energy infrastructure are at Member State level, with Transmission System Operators, national or local authorities and national regulators. This also means that investments in interconnections are made separately by a large number of TSOs, which makes the decision-making process rather fragmented.

A pan-European view on energy infrastructure planning
A pan-European view on transnational energy infrastructure planning is necessary for the realisation of an efficient climate-neutral European energy system. This pan-European view needs to be secured in policies and governance, in contrast to the existing non-binding processes.

Different options exist to improve current policies to ensure the incorporation of a pan-European view on transnational energy infrastructure planning and investment decisions, and to create a more comprehensive and transformative approach. This comprehensive approach can, in principle, be implemented most effectively by transferring all competences regarding planning of transnational energy infrastructure to the EU level.

However, realisation of a EU centralised approach is challenging and has drawbacks. Therefore, a more middle-of-the-road approach with fewer obstacles would be to impose binding requirements on Member States for the development of transnational energy infrastructure. Under this policy option, however, decision-making remains fragmented.

Rigorous changes may be necessary
Rigorous changes in legislation are expected to be necessary to adequately address the huge task of achieving climate neutrality in the EU in less than three decades. Even though transferring all competences for transnational energy infrastructure to EU level may seem politically unfeasible at the moment, rigorous and transformative changes such as these may be necessary in the transition towards climate neutrality. The policy option with a single pan-European entity that is responsible for all transnational energy infrastructure investments fits well within a policy framework in which all resources within the EU are used to ensure that climate targets are met.

This report can also be found on the 4i-TRACTION website.

Some examples of results published so far in this project:
Making EU Climate Policy Fit for Climate Neutrality, a policy brief
Transformative Change to Achieve 1.5°C: a EU Member State Assessment, a policy brief
Policy Pathways Towards a Climate-Neutral Europe, a report
The report Quantitative assessment of EU climate policy
The report Case Study Integrated Planning

More information on the project, up-to-date information on events and an overview of all 4i-TRACTION output can be found on the project website: Home | 4i-traction

This project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101003884.