Romania plans on using EU regional funds for the expansion of the gas distribution system, despite the existence of more sustainable alternatives and at odds with the energy transition.
In a nutshell:
- EU regional funds used to expand fossil gas infrastructure
- No significant contribution for greenhouse gas emissions reductions
- Increased costs for the energy transition
Romania’s Sustainable Development Operational Programme, dated October 2020, aims to finance the expansion of the fossil gas distribution system. Prioritising fossil gas over clean energy solutions will lock the country into climate wrecking fossil gas for decades and increase the costs of the energy transition.
This Operational Programme, outlining priorities for structural funds for the years 2021 to 2027, is said to be drafted in accordance with the Union’s objective of protecting, conserving and improving the quality of the environment. In reality, the draft explicitly proposes the expansion of the fossil gas distribution system, worth €400 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund.
The expansion of the fossil gas distribution system is proposed under the objective of reducing emissions and increasing the efficiency of district heating transmission and distribution systems. Despite the existence of more sustainable, efficient and economically competitive means to ensure high energy efficiency of the district heating systems, putting EU cash into fossil gas distribution systems will only slow down the evolution of a clean energy transition at the national level.
Investing EU funds in more fossil gas distribution also poses financial risks, as Romania does not need additional gas infrastructure: its fossil gas consumption needs in 2030 will be the same as in 2017.