France takes a step back from its initial reluctance and now opens to study the construction of the midcat pipelinewhich would unite Catalonia with the south of the Gallic country. The French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, assured this Tuesday that they will analyze the proposal from Spain and Germany to resume this infrastructure. The project, which was buried in 2010 mainly due to the lack of interest from Paris, has regained strength in recent weeks in the midst of the energy crisis in Europe as a result of the war in Ukraine.
Le Maire’s statements come just a few hours after the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, They asked to speed up the gas interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of the continent after meeting in Germany to discuss the energy issue. Specifically, Scholz has underlined his government’s “full support” for Midcat as a “long-term” solution to European gas supply.
“It is a very old question, but from the moment that Sánchez and Scholz, representatives of two countries that are friends of France, make this request to us, we are going to examine it,” assured the head of the French Economy. a little over a week ago the country adopted a more reticent stance towards the projectas the Midcat “would take a long time to be operational” and “therefore, it would not respond to the current crisis”, according to the French Ministry of Energy Transition. Behind it also lies the firm commitment of Paris to nuclear energy, which provides about 70% of the country’s electricity, despite the fact that now almost half of the reactors are stopped for various reasons.
“�� DIRECT | France will study the Spanish proposal to resume the Midcat
���� @adelgadoRne: “The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, assures that France will examine the request made by Spain and Germany”
— Radio 5 (@radio5_rne) August 30, 2022
Spain has celebrated the change of heart of Paris. Is about “a movement in the right direction and shows the pro-European commitment of the Government of France”, as pointed out by the Minister for the Ecological Transition and Third Vice President, Teresa Ribera. In a press conference, he assured that Le Maire’s words show the will to “give an unequivocal European response and work together to find a solution” to the current energy crisis motivated by “the blackmail of Putin’s war” .
The Midcat, buried in 2019 and resurrected by the energy crisis
This infrastructure would allow doubling the current gas transport capacity between the two countries, which is currently limited to two connections to the other end of the Pyrenees, one in the Basque Country and another in Navarra. Spain has claimed to revive the project since the beginning of the war in Ukraine to release its large regasification capacity – it has six active plants to regasify liquefied natural gas, more than any other country in the EU. This summer Germany has also joined this proposalfor which it is essential to find new gas suppliers due to its energy dependency on Russia.
the midcat “it would have contributed massively to relaxing the current situation”, noted in August Scholz. Brussels also plans to study the possibility of retaking the infrastructure in its REPower EU plan to reduce dependence on Russian gas. However, a study by the European Commission in 2018 determined that the gas pipeline, which began construction in 2012, would not be profitable or necessary given the ecological transition plans, which include stopping using this fossil fuel in the near future.
In addition to its commitment to nuclear power, France is also not very enthusiastic about Midcat because it would require a large investment on its part to expand the network of gas pipelines that circulate through the country. Unlike Spain, the neighboring country has a poorly meshed network and a poor connection with Germanywhich is the main party interested in receiving gas from the Iberian Peninsula.
The Spanish condition to strengthen the Midcat is that it can be used in the future to transport green hydrogen, which is produced from renewables. Today this promising energy is expensive and inefficient, but Europe’s energy transition plans expect it to play a key role in replacing fossil fuels.