The EU needs to improve the physical protection of energy infrastructure in light of the threat from terrorism and other geopolitical risks, according to a report.
In a report on energy the European Commission said digitalisation of the sector also increased the risk of cyber attack and an expert group had been established to assess the threat.
The warning comes against a background of work to reduce reliance on imports of Russian gas. In 2014 the EC said Europe imported more than half of its energy requirements, costing €1bn a day, and six member states (Finland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) were entirely dependent on Russia for gas imports.
In 2015 the EU announced the creation of an energy union, a cross-EU strategy to integrate markets, increase security and efficiency and promote renewables.
In the report, an update on progress with the energy union, the EC said: “Protection of critical infrastructures in energy and transport sectors is a topic of growing importance in light of recent terrorist attacks and other geopolitical threats. Legislation is already in place to assess the relevant needs and improve the protection of critical infrastructure.
“Future work in the energy sector should focus on strengthening the physical protection of installations as well as measures to keep services running. Digitalisation of the energy sector increases its exposure to cyber attack and the need for strong data protection rules.”
The report said infrastructure was the “backbone of the energy union” and work on new pipelines, such as the Trans Adriatic Pipeline that will form part of the Southern Gas Corridor, began last year.
A €187m deal was inked for a gas interconnector between Finland and Estonia and a €179m agreement was signed for the BRUA pipeline to carry gas through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
New liquefied natural gas terminals have opened in Poland, France and Finland over the past few months and the report said the East Mediterranean was a “promising source of gas”. “This increases the diversification opportunities and reduces import dependency on a single supplier, a key objective of the Energy Union,” said the report.
The report said renewables made up 16% of energy consumption in the EU in 2014, against a target of 20% by 2020, and some countries including the UK would need support to reach “national binding targets”.
The report said the EU is “on track” to meet its 2020 energy efficiency targets.
In 2015 greenhouse gas emissions in the EU were 22% below the 1990 level and “despite a temporary increase in 2015, emissions remain on a decreasing trend”, said the report.
The EC has proposed a target should be set of improving energy efficiency by 30% by 2030.
The report said to reach 2030 climate and energy targets, investment of around €379bn was needed each year between 2020 and 2030.
“In view of scarce resources in the member states, public resources should be used smartly,” said the report. “Member states should make sure that their support to energy infrastructure in the widest sense is in line with the principles of the energy union. Support should only be given if in line with the long-term energy policy of the European Union, avoiding stranded assets and carbon lock-in. Greater efforts are needed to provide infrastructure for clean energy in transport.”
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