There’s no going back. In the European Union there are now very few companies or economic sectors that do not want to join the fight against climate change. Even in the case of the energy sector, it has clearly taken the lead and this week a large group of 100 organisations from the main industrial sectors and civil society have presented a Declaration to EU policy-makers to accelerate the adoption of clean and renewable electricity as the most cost-effective and energy-efficient strategy to achieve a climate-neutral Europe.
This request has been driven by the Electrification Alliance, composed of AVERE (European Association for Electromobility), Eurelectric (the European electricity industry association in which it is a partner aelēc), the European Climate Foundation, the European Copper Institute, the European Heath Pump Association, SolarPower Europe, SmartEN (the European business association for digital and decentralised energy solutions) and WindEurope.
Together, they add up to a hundred organisations that are striving to support the EU in meeting its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDS).
Its main leitmotiv is that renewable and decarbonised electricity must increase significantly, replacing fossil fuels in Europe’s energy mix, as a precondition for meeting climate and energy targets. At least if you want to comply with the European Commission’s long-term decarbonisation plan, once its document “A Clean Planet for All” is known, its strategy for a 2050 horizon.
“We need to double the share of electricity in European energy consumption to 2050,” said Ditte Juul-Jørgensen at the event organized by Electrification Alliance for its presentation.
Electrification has the potential to profoundly reshape Europe’s economy, revitalise its industry and ensure a clean and healthy environment for its citizens. It can drastically reduce the European bill of 5 billion euros per week for fuel imports, reduce energy consumption by 4-8 times and address the serious health risks associated with poor air quality.
To meet the vision of climate neutrality, the necessary investments in grid infrastructure, smart solutions and renewable energy generation must start now. Policies must be geared towards this goal.
The role of gas in the process
EU Energy Director General Ditte Juul Jørgensen, whose words are being watched closely in Brussels for signs of where energy policy might go in the new Commission, said cleaner fossil fuels will have a role to play in generating this electricity in the medium term.
“We need to distinguish between different fossil fuels,” he said, “they all have a significant carbon footprint, but if you compare greenhouse gas emissions of different types, there are differences. There are fewer emissions from the gas than from coal, if we have methane leaks under control.
In any case, the Declaration calls on EU policy-makers to achieve a meaningful New Green Deal and accelerate Europe’s electrification through:
– Incorporate clean and direct electrification in the heating, cooling and transport sectors (including heat pumps and electric vehicles) as the most cost-effective and energy-efficient strategy for tackling climate change;
– Support a robust industrial strategy towards climate neutrality to ensure Europe’s leadership in electricity solutions based on renewable, decarbonised and digital energies, including electrolysers;
– Ensure that investments in energy grids, especially smart grids, support the transition to a climate neutral economy;
– Modernise the energy tax regime to accelerate the shift towards decarbonisation of electricity consumption and greater absorption of clean electricity in end-use sectors;
– Ensure sufficient funding in the EU budget to support regions and Member States with a different starting point, including a significant Fair Transition Energy Fund;
– Targeting research and innovation funds to accelerate a cost-effective transition in sectors difficult to reduce (e.g. cement, shipping, aviation), notably through an increase of the Horizon Europe budget (the extension of Horizon 2020) to 120 billion.
Among the signatories of this declaration are the Spanish electricity companies Iberdrola, Naturgy (and Endesa with Enel), other companies such as Acciona, Axpo, EDPR and EDP, E.On, Nordex, Siemens Gamesa, Vestas, or the Spanish sectorial employers’ associations such as AEE, aelēc. UNEF is part of the SolarPower Europe association.
Following the publication of the Declaration, Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation and one of the participants in the Paris Agreement, said that “the Electrification Alliance is sending a clear signal to European Union politicians that they must commit to achieving zero net carbon emissions by 2050. Electrification must be the dominant path in the transition to clean energy, and European companies are prepared to pave the way. This, hand in hand with the European Green Deal, is a unique opportunity to forge EU leadership in climate action and decarbonisation on the global stage.
“Electrification is the most important solution to make the vision of a fossil-free Europe a reality. We are determined to deliver, but we must take into account the different starting points and ensure sufficient funding to ensure a just transition,” said Magnus Hall, president of Eurelectric.