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Europe needs more cross border power lines - RTE

LONDON, Feb 17, 2004 (Reuters)


    Europe must build more cross-border power transmission lines to cope with increased electricity flows between countries as markets open to competition, and to make supply more secure, said the head of French grid Reseau de Transport d'Electricite (RTE) on Tuesday.

    "If we want to develop the market in Europe we need to increase the amount of interconnection," said Andre Merlin, who is also president of industry group European Transmission System Operators.

    "More international interconnection would be good for the market and good for security," he told a utilities conference in London.

    The European Union's energy markets are opening to competition in line with an EU directive on energy liberalisation, which aims to create a single market across the continent.

    EU Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio recently identified the need for more interconnectors as a priority in proposals to improve security of supply in Europe in the wake of blackouts last year in Italy, Scandinavia and Britain.

    Merlin said greater capacity for cross-border flows would give more opportunities for countries facing supply squeezes to draw on back-up supplies from neighbouring markets.

    "Last summer France got back-up from Spain," he said, referring to a squeeze on French supplies when a heat wave forced the shutdown of some nuclear power stations.

    Roger Urwin, chief executive officer of Britain's National Grid Transco , agreed that Europe's grids were not built with cross-border flows and trading in mind.

    "We are confronted with real challenges in creating the operational flexibility that the market needs," he told the same conference.

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