The European Commission has announced a list of 140 electricity projects that will be fast tracked and have access to a funding pot of €5.85 billion (US$7.9 billion).

The list includes several gigawatts of pumped hydro storage, a 250MW battery storage system in southern Italy and a compressed air energy storage system in the UK with an annual storage capacity of 550GWh.

The projects have been given “project of common interest” (PCI) status that will mean lower administrative costs streamlined permitting procedures and the possibility of receiving funds from the Connecting Europe Facility to leverage private and public finance. This could be available as early as 2014.

"We have to make sure that our limited funds are used wisely and that EU money goes where it can create most benefits to European consumers,” EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger. “With this list of energy infrastructure projects and their accompanying benefits, we also hope to attract more investors."

The compressed air storage technology uses excess energy to pump compressed air into underground caverns within old salt deposits. The air is pumped back out when demand grows and mixed with natural gas to turn steam turbines. The addition of the air halves the amount of gas required.

Also on the PCI list are a number of grid connections including between the UK and Ireland, across the Adriatic, between France and Spain and between Greece and Israel via Cyprus.

There was disappointment that just two smart grid projects were listed among the 140 projects.