Today Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, together with Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain, and Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister of France, and with the participation of José Manuel Soria López, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism and Mario Monti, European Coordinator of the project, attended the inauguration of the Santa Llogaia – Baixàs power line. The inauguration takes place in Montesquieu-des-Albères on the French border and in Castillo de Perelada on the Spanish border. This power line, a project of common European interest, doubles the existing electricity interconnection capacity between France and Spain, from 1400 megawatt to 2800 megawatt, and helps connecting the power system of the Iberian Peninsula to other European energy markets. The project has received €255 million EU support under the European Energy Programme for Recovery.
Energy interconnectors are crucial to build an Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy, one of the key priorities of the new Commission as laid down by President Juncker in his political guidelines. The completion of this project forms part of a broader strategy of the Juncker Commission to connect the energy markets in Europe. As part of this strategy, on 25 February the Commission will present a communication on how to achieve an electricity interconnection of 10% in all Member States by 2020. This communication will go hand in hand with the Energy Union Strategy that will be presented on the same day. Moreover, President Juncker, together with the leaders of France, Spain and Portugal, will give a boost to this process on the occasion of their summit to be held on 4 March in Madrid.
Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: "I congratulate France and Spain to this achievement. By connecting our Member States and energy markets, we will be stronger together. We will be less dependent, more competitive, and we will manage the transition to a low-carbon economy. We need many more examples like this all over Europe".
Commenting on the significance of the project, Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: "After so many years, the completion of this truly landmark project shows our renewed determination to achieve a fully integrated energy market in Europe. The increased interconnection capacity will allow renewable electricity to flow more freely in the European market, and make the European power system more reliable. More energy companies will also be able to compete across borders, resulting in greater choice and cheaper energy prices for consumers. This will not be an isolated project. The Juncker Commission will continue to work relentlessly to connect Europe's energy markets to give safer, cleaner and cheaper energy to our citizens, households and businesses" He also added that: "it is impressive how a few kilometres of cable can bring the EU towards new levels of integration from which all EU citizens will benefit."
The European Council of October 2014 has called for all Member States to achieve interconnection of at least 10% of their installed electricity production capacity by 2020. This means that each Member State should have in place electricity cables that allow at least 10% of the electricity that is produced by their power plants to be transported across its borders to its neighbouring countries. To date, the electricity interconnection capacity between France and Spain only covered 3% of peak demand in the Iberian Peninsula. The very low level of interconnection capacity is a major obstacle for the creation of a regional electricity market in South-West Europe and it has prevented the energy companies of the Iberian Peninsula from participating in the EU internal electricity market.
The power line connects the towns of Baixàs, in the Rosellón region (France), and Santa Llogaia, in Alto Ampurdán (Spain). It is 64.5 km long, of which 33.5 km run in France and 31 km in Spain. The line crosses the Pyrenees at the Albera massif. An 8.5-kilometre tunnel has been built for this section. The rest of the line runs in underground trenches.
The total cost of the project was €700 million, €255 of which was covered by the EU under the European Energy Programme for Recovery. The EU supported technical studies, the procurement of material and the construction works for the cables, the converter station and the tunnel.