The declaration of a project as a Project of Common Interest (PCIs) awards it the category of priority and strategic, making it eligible for special benefits. In general, they are projects related to the strengthening of international interconnections.
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The European Commission adopted the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy, which highlights the urgent need to improve European energy grids, interconnecting them at the continental level, to ensure safe, affordable and sustainable energy.
In order to develop energy infrastructure corridors and priority areas, in particular cross-border interconnections for gas and electricity networks, that enable these objectives to be achieved, it is necessary to implement Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). The classification as PCI guarantees a project the top priority and importance status over other projects. This priority speeds up the project’s permitting process, opens the door to the possibility of receiving grants for studies and exceptionally for works, and makes the project eligible for special funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (5.85 billion euros for 2014-2020).
The first list of PCIs was made public in October 2013 and contains 248 projects for the transport of electricity and gas, among which there are 13 energy storage projects and some smart grid projects.
In this first list, there are four projects that enable the interconnection ratio of Spain with neighbouring European countries to be increased. An exchange capacity ratio, which according to the European recommendation shall be 10% of the installed power generation capacity in 2020:
- Santa Llogaia-Bescanó 400 kV Axis, which allows the connection of the new Spain-France interconnection in Direct Current (DC) to the existing Spanish grid. This project is already in service.
- The Bay of Biscay project, a new Direct Current submarine interconnection between the Basque Country, in Spain and Aquitaine, in France.
- A phase-shifting transformer in the 220 kV Arkale substation connected to the Arkale-Argia cross-border line between Spain and France.
- A new axis between Galicia, in Spain, and Minho in Portugal, called the Northern Interconnection.
The second list of PCIs is ongoing. On 18 November 2015, the European Commission published the 2015 list of PCIs which will now be submitted to the European Parliament for final approval. This new list includes a series of internal power lines between northern Spain and the Mediterranean to strengthen the north-south energy flows, and a new project between France and Spain called the "Generic Project", which responds to the proposed strengthening works set out in the Madrid Declaration.