In a first step toward creating an integrated energy grid, the European Commission last week allocated € 200 million ($223 million) for cross-border energy infrastructure projects aimed at increasing the efficiency of energy transportation across European Union members. While these grants signal momentum toward a desired “Energy Union,” such a goal remains largely aspirational.
Officially proposed in 2015, the “Energy Union” seeks to combine modern energy infrastructure, smart grids, and the free flow of energy across state borders in order to enhance reliability, promote energy efficiency, diversify supplies, open up markets to more competition, and increase security and safety. Proponents suggest infrastructure investments would also result in significant cost savings over time and would better leverage geographical areas better suited to differing forms of renewables.
While most of us would consider EU countries to be largely integrated, many countries remain quite disconnected when it comes to energy. Centuries of differences, competition, and armed conflict have, in some cases, resulted in an insular approach in energy products and services. Today, it is relatively easy to travel across Europe by train, automobile, or aircraft, but the same simply cannot be said when it comes to the movement of electricity, natural gas, or other energy commodities – at least not yet.
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