* Piebalgs plays down prospects for disruptions
* Sees only temporary support for CCS technology
HANOVER, Germany, April 21 (Reuters) - EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said on Tuesday he was convinced that Russia and Ukraine will work towards avoiding any future gas supply disruptions to Europe.
Speaking to reporters during the Hanover industry fair, Piebalgs said, “If there is another crisis, their credibility will be ruined. I think it is important for them that it (the transit system) functions in future.”
Europe was shocked by delivery shortfalls in January after a bilateral row over transit and pay. Their biggest customer, the EU, has been urging the two countries to bridge differences to ensure the bloc safeguards its energy security.
Piebalgs was in Hanover to promote the focus on energy efficiency placed in Germany at its industrial showcase event, where technologies to cut raw materials use, avoid environmental burdens and raise efficiencies are on display.
Turning to carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies for the coal-to-power generating industries which Brussels has agreed to help fund in its pre-market stages, Piebalgs said that he was only ready to propagate public funding until the technology was mature enough to be economically feasible.
“We are in a transition phase, we must close a gap until the technology is mature,” he said.
Germany relies on coal for half of its electricity needs and therefore must reconcile EU targets to cut heavy CO2 pollution from coal burning with the need to keep the industry alive.
RWE RWEG.DE has said it is seeking 1 billion euros ($1.29 billion) from a partner or from public funds to help finance a CCS pilot plant at Huerth, which could be using the novel process from 2014.
Piebalgs was also asked about his preferred options for future energy transmission network operations and ownership.
Major utilities E.ON EONGn.DE and Vattenfall Europe [VATN.UL] are now aiming to sell their power grids after big players long resisted EU demands to create more comptition.
Piebalgs said there was a multitude of options in member states to run the grids and he trusted the German regulator to create transparent access and prices.
“The goal is important, the method is allowed to show flexibility,” he said.
German utilities have opposed what they see as dispossession and tried to appease Brussels with alternative models to operate grids fairly for competitors, while protecting their assets.
Reporting by Vera Eckert
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