The EU recently announced the approval of record funding for an energy infrastructure project between France and Spain which will be beginning in 2018. The $717 million funding for the France-Spain powerlink project is part of a program by the EU to integrate European renewable energy and natural gas markets. This collection of interdependent projects has the strategic purpose of further connecting European energy markets in order to enhance Europe’s security of supply and reduce dependence on Russian gas.
The building of the Franco-Spanish powerlink is an expensive and complex project which involves the coordination of multiple countries and agencies. It appears to be challenging, but is a more manageable proposition when effective project management strategies are utilized. Project management is the systematic, phased approach to defining, organizing, planning, monitoring and controlling projects. This project is in its early stages and has not yet begun execution so not all stages of the project management approach are applicable. Nonetheless the frame of project management allows onlookers to analyze the path this project has taken so far and that which it will tread in the future.
The Iberian peninsula is separated from neighboring states by a geographical bottleneck, and is similarly isolated from EU energy networks due to its positioning. Spanish energy executives complain that France is reluctant to increase cross-border energy infrastructure which would end this isolation. Member states in the EU expect a 10% level of interconnectedness to the energy networks within the union, but Spain only has an interconnectedness of 6%.
It is essential to the success of a project that project goals are defined and measurable. The “interconnectedness percentage” referenced earlier is a long term goal for EU member-countries, but the project goal for the Franco-Spanish powerlink is more specific. The Franco-Spanish powerlink aims to increase the power exchange capacity between these two countries from 2,800 megawatts to 5,000 megawatts through the construction of a 230 mile subsea power cable stretching across the Bay of Biscay. This project has funding of $717 million and is scheduled to begin late 2018 and complete in early 2025. The stated objectives, time-frame, and resource allocation of the project define what a project success is from the beginning.
After definition of the project is accomplished organization of teams is necessary. Underwater construction that spans hundreds of miles is an engineering wonder and requires a great degree of technical competence. Additionally, construction along the Spanish and French coasts requires good communication systems among project workers to confront possible miscommunications due to language barrier. Since this project requires high-level difficult work the team is still being organized.
It is important to notice the organizational structure this project will be taking place within. The organization funding this project is the EU, a large intergovernmental body in charge of many varied operations. Due to the size and flexibility of their activities it is likely that they utilize a Matrix project model wherein project managers make decisions but report to program managers and coordinate across functional boundaries. This allows project manager and their team team to fully focus on the Franco-Spanish powerlink while other EU-run operations continue in parallel.
As this project continues to develop, those in charge will continue to consider the project management approach being taken in order to achieve effective results. If successfully monitored and controlled, this project is scheduled to greatly ameliorate Spain’s energy issues by 2025.