EU provides funding for 600MW transmission line between Italy and Tunisia

The transmission line will run for over 200km, between the province of Trapani in Sicily to Tunisia. Image: C-Crete Technologies.

A 600MW electricity transmission line between Italy and Tunisia has received €307 million (US$324 million) in funding as part of the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) financing programme aimed at developing energy infrastructure across the continent.

The transmission line qualifies as one of the EU’s Projects of Common Interest, which are projects that “have a significant benefit for at least two EU countries and must increase competitiveness, enhance the EU’s energy security, and contribute to sustainability”, according to the European Commission.

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The project, to be developed by Italian utility Terna and STEG, the Tunisian grid operator, features a 200km submarine cable, with a maximum depth of 800m, and represents the first time that the CEF has awarded funding to a cross-border infrastructure project developed by an EU member state and a third country.

Terna said that the interconnection will improve energy security, promote the integration of the European and African electricity markets and allow for greater renewable electricity generation across Europe.

“Thanks to this project, Italy will be able to firmly establish itself as the Mediterranean energy hub,” said Terna’s CEO Stefano Donnarumma. “It is a strategic infrastructure project for Italy and for Europe, which will significantly contribute to energy independence, to the security of the electricity system, and to the development of renewable energy.”

The project will require a total of around €850 million (US$897 million) in capital investment.

The CEF financing of the Italy-Tunisia project represents over 50% of a total €602 million (US$635 million) investment into eight cross-border interconnection projects. €73 million has been committed to a cross-border smart grid project between Austria, Croatia and Slovenia, set to optimise grid operation and maximise new connections through digitalisation.

Two significant gas storage projects in Romania and Poland also received financing, with the aim of improving supply and security in light of the invasion of Ukraine, as well as three carbon capture and storage projects.

Interconnection projects across national borders are included in the EU’s REPowerEU scheme, brought into effect earlier this year to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and lessen the bloc’s dependence on Russian gas imports. Part of this scheme has seen an emergency regulation roll back solar PV permitting times and cut red tape to enable a faster, more secure energy transition.  

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