Transgreen/Mediterranean Solar Plan/Euro-Mediterranean electricity grid
On Monday, 5 July in Paris, in the presence of Jean-Louis Borloo, Ministre d’Etat, Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Marine Affairs, responsible for Green Technology and Climate Negotiations, and Henri Guaino, Special Advisor to President Sarkozy, a number of companies signed a draft agreement to form a partnership: Transgreen. The aim of this industrial initiative is to study the feasibility of a grid to transport electricity between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean and developing electricity interconnections around the Mediterranean Basin.
The fight against climate change and – a key part of it – development of renewable energies require the setting-up of ambitious co-development projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensure energy security and contribute to growth. A Justice-Climate plan is essential if this is to succeed. Ambitious initiatives are especially necessary in the Mediterranean and Africa.
Transgreen falls within the framework of the Mediterranean Solar Plan, which provides for the construction, in the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Basin, of 20 gigawatts (GW) of renewable-energy production capacity – particularly solar – by 2020. Around 5 GW would be exported to Europe to assist the viability of the power plant projects.
Getting the electricity produced by these plants to the areas where it will be used requires new transport and interconnection infrastructures linking production sites to the local grids and to Europe, notably by undersea high-voltage direct current (DC) cables.
The signatory companies of this industrial initiative are Abengoa, AFD, Alstom, Areva, Atos Origin, CDC Infrastructure, EDF, Nexans, Prysmian, RED Electrica de España, RTE, Siemens and Taqa Arabia.
They will combine their efforts in a joint legal venture with the remit to:
propose the technical and economic blueprint for a trans-Mediterranean grid capable of exporting around 5 GW to Europe by 2020 and leading to concrete projects;
promote an investment-friendly regulatory and institutional framework for viable projects on the southern shores of the Mediterranean;
show the impact of the investment in infrastructure and electricity exchanges on growth, economic activity and employment;
develop technical and technological cooperation with countries on the southern shores on the basis of projects for trans-Mediterranean power links;
promote European technology and industry in global competition, and particularly the production of electricity from renewable energy, DC transmission and very-high-voltage undersea cables.
Initially set up for three years, the partnership is open to other companies, particularly those from southern countries, in order to design together the electrical grids which will help speed up the energy transition towards low-carbon electricity.
Transgreen will work closely with the authorities of the countries concerned, the European Commission, scientific community, development banks and non-governmental organizations. It will also coordinate its efforts with the other Mediterranean Solar Plan projects, working with Desertec, which intends to supply up to 15% of the electricity used in Europe by 2050 using solar and wind power production facilities in North Africa and the Middle East.
For Transgreen’s partners, the creation of a trans-Mediterranean electrical grid will contribute to the viability of the projects for renewable electricity production in the South by enabling them to export part of their production to Europe and cut the cost of long-distance, high-power transmission by stimulating progress in transport technology.
Development of the interconnections will increase the security of the electrical systems of the partner countries confronted with the growth of demand. Transgreen will create the conditions for building an electricity market in the South which will contribute to the security of supply and competitiveness.
Transgreen will help promote the commitment to and European solutions in the fight against climate change. It will provide a concrete demonstration of the co-development strategy promoted by the Union for the Mediterranean, which is an engine for stability and economic and social development in the region.
The proportion of renewable and nuclear electricity in the production of European electricity is scheduled to rise from 45% to 66% by 2020. With this in mind, development of the interconnections around the Mediterranean and between its northern and southern shores is one of the European Union’s four major projects for developing electricity transport infrastructures. The other three major projects are the strengthening of the south-east interconnections, interconnection of the Baltic countries’ grids and the other Member States, and construction of undersea grids to link North Sea and Baltic Sea wind farms./.