The second High-level meeting of the renewables section of the EU Clean Energy Industrial Forum took place in Brussels on 18th March at the European Commission headquarters building, the Berlaymont. Opened by Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, it was attended by a group of 22 CEOs, industry leaders, and representatives from international organisations. The Forum is part of the framework established to support the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, launched in November 2016, and follows up on President Juncker’s call to include the decarbonisation industry as one of the key sectors for a renewed EU industry strategy.
The participants also welcomed the recent proposal by the European Commission for a climate neutral economy by 2050, which would be essential to ensure the European industry a long-term home market and a competitive advantage to maintain and strengthen Europe’s global leadership in renewables.
The industry leaders recalled the outcomes of the first High-level meeting of the Clean Energy Industrial Forum on Renewables in January 2018, and applauded the significant progress that has been made since then. In particular, the new regulatory frameworks and the ambitious European renewable energy target of at least 32% set for 2030 has created a strong, dynamic and unfragmented EU market for renewables, and allows the European renewable energy industry to become an instrument motor for economic growth and additional jobs.
The discussions focused how to translate the established market demand for renewables into growth opportunities arising from the clean energy transition and on ways to improve the industrial underpinning for renewables in the EU. The important role of community and regional engagement was also mentioned, because the scale and speed of deployment needed to achieve the 2030 targets can only be achieved with the help and support of our European citizens. In particular, the participants highlighted the importance of developing dedicated policies to support industrial competitiveness under the National Energy and Climate Plans that have to be developed by EU Member States, and suggested that the key performance indicators that have been identified by the taskforce of the Clean Energy Industrial Forum could be used to track progress on this front.
The participants also highlighted the important role that EU companies are playing the global energy transition internationally as key technology and material suppliers, as operators and service providers, as project developers and as financers. The EU can only retain its global leadership if European companies and research institutions remain at the forefront of innovation. This includes the need to ensure that innovations are picked and developed within European renewable energy supply chain and that innovative renewable energy projects are also implemented in the end-use sectors of buildings, transport, industry, and agriculture. Renewable energy and technologies and services enabling the integration of renewables will therefore have to be a priority under the new Horizon Europe programmes.
The discussants also highlighted the importance of EU commercial policies, such as trade agreements, to ensure an undistorted international level playing field in the rapidly growing market, including access to the necessary materials, reducing tariffs on goods and services related to the clean energy transition, and to ensure non-discriminatory and reliable access to third country’s energy markets.
Finally, discussants highlighted that attracting private sector investments will be key to the success of the energy transition, and that European financing instruments are instrumental in leveraging private sector engagement. The participants therefore welcomed the Commission’s proposal to mainstream climate in the next European budget, promised to put projects forward towards the recently adopted Innovation Fund, and supported the creation of a one-stop-shop to allow the private sector to access the relevant instruments needed for the earliest stage of research to large-scale deployment of new renewable energy projects.