Project name: Austria – Italy interconnection between Würmlach (AT) and Somplago (IT), Project of Common Interest (PCI) n° 3.4.
Project promoter: Alpe Adria Energia Srl (AAE), an Italian company headquartered in Udine. It is jointly owned by Enel Produzione S.p.A and Alpen Adria Energy Line S.p.A, with each company having a 50% share.
The project concerns a 220 kV A.C. underground cable between Italy and Austria. It is 51 Km in length and has about 300 MW of nominal capacity, with a Phase Shift Transformer (PST) located in Austria.
The project is developed within the framework of European Regulation 714/09 (now substituted by Reg. EU 943/2019) which enables private enterprises to build new electrical interconnection lines and to use the new capacity in order to enhance the competitiveness of the European energy markets and to increase cross-border capacity among Member Countries. It is recognised as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) and deemed necessary in order to reach the objectives set by European energy strategy.
In energy terms, the Italian-Austrian border is congested and this interconnection will make it possible to increase grid transfer capacity by 300 MW. This will have a positive impact both on energy generation and competiveness. This is due to the fact that it will be possible to transfer the energy produced by power plants more efficiently, using renewable sources, at no extra cost to citizens. Even though the cost of the investment will be borne by the project promoter and not repaid in the bill by end customers, once it enters into service, the line will become part of the national transmission grid and will help bring about market integration.
In Italy, The Ministry of Development restarted the permit process in December 2018 and the Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea began the new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in March 2019. In Austria, AAE submitted a formal permit request to the Carinthia Region (“Land”) in March 2019.
The new project maintains the existing grid nodes (Somplago, municipality in Cavazzo Carnico in Italy, and Würmlach, municipality of Kötschach-Mauthen in Austria) and foresees a completely underground solution. This is in order to satisfy the requirements of involved local entities, as well as the guidelines provided by Friuli Venezia Giulia Regional Energy Plan (PER).
Alpe Adria Energia Srl started the process to obtain the exemption accordingly to regulation EC 714/2009 (now substituted by Reg. EU 943/2019) both in Italy and Austria.
The project is included in the TYNDP 2018 of the ENTSO-E and in the Project of Common Interest (PCI) lists issued by European Commission within the framework of the Regulation EC 347/2013.
The project is currently in the 4th PCI list (Nov ‘19 – Nov ’21) and it has been selected as the beneficiary of a 200,000 Euro Grant under the Connecting Europe Facility 2nd Call 2018 for studies and technical design.
Considering the project history and its importance in term of benefits guarantee to the systems, the Somplago – Würmlach interconnection has been chosen as pilot project of a communication campaign aiming the public awareness about interconnections concerns, promoted by European Union called “Innovative actions to boost public awareness, trust and acceptance of electricity PCIs".
The main benefits of the project are:
Greater security of supply and interchange with foreign countries, thanks to the new transit capacity of the AAE interconnection that could double the present net transfer capacity between Italy and Austria;
Improved quality, safety and reliability of the interconnected electricity systems, by reducing the risk of congestion and power surges;
Integration of renewables and accommodation of flows;
Access to energy with lower prices and an increase in the use of more efficient production. This will have a positive impact on energy prices.
Information on planned public consultations: a consultation for stakeholders was held in April 2018 in Italy and in September 2020 in Austria. The next such consultation will take place at some stage in 2021.
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