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SolarPower Europe, RGI, WindEurope, smartEn discuss climate neutrality goals

NEW EUROPE/KOSTIS GEROPOULOS
Bertrand Piccard, Initiator, Chairman and Pilot of the Solar Impulse Foundation, addresses the emPOWER Energy Transition Summit in Brussels, 18 February 2020.

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Leading associations of the energy transition – smartEn, SolarPower Europe, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI), and WindEurope issued a declaration in Brussels on 18 February that sets clear policy recommendations to boost the renewables sector and achieve the Green Deal’s climate and energy goals.
The associations hosted the emPOWER Energy Transition Summit at the BMW Store in Brussels, an event that highlighted the contribution of renewables and smart energy solutions to the European Commission’s Green Deal policy framework. The event gathered policymakers, industry leaders, energy executives, and trailblazing innovators to explore the opportunities that renewable technologies and smart sectoral integration present.
Romanian MEP and ITRE Committee Chairman Cristian Bușoi told the emPOWER conference that coherent policies, increased use of renewables, interconnectivity without forgetting competitiveness and jobs are key for Europe meeting its 2050 targets.
Following a short film, Bertrand Piccard, Initiator, Chairman and Pilot of the Solar Impulse Foundation, noted that many solutions already available for the energy savings of the future from housing and transport to hydrogen and sector integration. “Europe has already lost the battle of batteries. Have to win the battle of hydrogen,” he said.
Frauke Thies, Executive Director of smartEn, said successfully decarbonising Europe’s energy system will depend on increasing renewables and energy efficiency, as well as unlocking flexibility on the demand-side. “It is unthinkable to scale up one without boosting the others. Every company, building and car can play an important part in providing flexibility. To make the clean energy transition a success, all should benefit from actively supporting a more variable energy system,” Thies said.
For her part, SolarPower Europe CEO Walburga Hemetsberger said solar has undergone an over 100% increase in the EU in the last year, with projections pointing towards renewable energy dominating the decade ahead. “We believe that a 100% renewables-based energy system in Europe is possible, which would ensure a sustainable and secure future. In order to achieve this vision, it is urgent to deliver an ambitious industrial strategy for renewables, and establish the renewable sector as a strategic value chain for Europe,” she said.
Renewables Grid Initiative CEO Antonella Battaglini hailed the energy transition as a great opportunity for Europe if designed well and with fairness in mind. “Optimised use of distributed resources and the electricity grid, the necessary sector integration, local value production while ensuring effective nature protection and stakeholder engagement – these constitute the coherent horizontal efforts necessary to allow the Green Deal to deliver a stronger and more meaningful Europe within and beyond our borders,” Battaglini said.
Meanwhile, WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said wind energy is 15% of Europe’s electricity and provides 300,000 jobs. “The EU Commission wants wind to be half of Europe’s electricity by 2050 and they envisage a 5-fold increase in wind capacity by then. This means doubling the current rate at which Europe is building wind farms. And this requires a new approach to planning and permitting and continued investment in power grids. The National Energy & Climate Plans for 2030 are a crucial first step,” Dickson said.
In their declaration, smartEn, SolarPower Europe, the Renewables Grid Initiative, and WindEurope, said the Climate Law must accelerate the implementation of the Clean Energy Package, empower the European Commission to secure the delivery of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets at national level and enhance its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in line with the Paris Agreement. The revision of State Aid rules should be consistent which such frameworks.
They urged the EU to ensure integrated and collaborative electricity infrastructure planning, including the integration of all decentralised energy and flexibility resources. “This will strengthen Europe’s grid – the backbone of renewables-based electrification and smart sector integration – and prevent the societal costs of stranded assets,” the declaration read.
The EU must acknowledge the strategic importance of renewables and smart energy technologies for a successful transition towards climate-neutrality, and develop an ambitious industrial strategy encompassing both supply-side and demand-side policies, the declaration read.
Finally, smartEn, SolarPower Europe, the Renewables Grid Initiative, and WindEurope, said the European Green Deal should foster a fair transition for all Europeans by promoting benefit sharing and inclusion in decision-making processes in particular for impacted communities and vulnerable households. “Crucially, it should support re-skilling programmes to help address the economic and social impacts of the transition by creating job opportunities within the renewable and smart energy sectors. It must also ensure nature protection,” the declaration read.

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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