Weekly Policy Update – week 28

Hot topics 

Energy System Integration and Hydrogen strategies presented: Yesterday, the European Commission has adopted the ‘EU Strategy for Energy System Integration’ and ‘EU Hydrogen Strategy’, two important milestones to bring forward the European green Deal and ensure the achievement of a climate-neutral economy by 2050.

  • The ‘Energy System Integration’ strategy integrates several positive elements for solar. It priorities the renewable-based electrification of key sectors of the economy such as transport, buildings and low-heat temperature industrial processes. To this end, the strategy explicitly announces a scale-up of renewable deployment in Europe, including through the recovery and resilience facility and upcoming Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism, as well as flagship initiatives such as accelerating the supply of solar in buildings as part of the Renovation Wave initiative. Finally the strategy acknowledges the need to boost investments in electricity and local flexibility infrastructures (such as EV charging), revising TEN-E and TEN-T to be consistent with the Commissions’ climate neutrality objective.
  • The Hydrogen’ strategy acknowledges renewable-based hydrogen as the only Clean Hydrogen solution to bring forward Europe’s green transition. To support the scale-up of renewable hydrogen in Europe, the strategy proposes to incentivize the roll-out of dedicated gigawatt-scale renewable hydrogen factories, establish quotas for renewable hydrogen in certain end-use sectors as well as support schemes for the scale-up of renewable hydrogen, like tendering schemes for carbon contracts for difference. To deliver this strategy, the Commission is launching the ‘European Clean Hydrogen Alliance’, to develop a concrete pipeline of projects.

In addition to the information shared in this Policy Update, a specific email and summary of the two strategies will be shared to members.
 
Clean Hydrogen Alliance: formally launched on Wednesday 8th of July alongside the Energy System Integration Strategy and the EU Hydrogen Strategy, the Clean Hydrogen Alliance aims to bring together EU institutions, national governments and industry representatives to develop a hydrogen value chain in Europe. The Alliance is expected to provide crucial input on how to develop a hydrogen-based economy, from providing input in elements such as regulatory changes and delivering “a pipeline of large-scale investment projects in the clean hydrogen ecosystem” that will benefit from special status as so-called Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs). The alliance will be structured around six main activities: (i) Generation of Clean Hydrogen (ii) Transportation of Hydrogen (iii) Mobility sector (IV) Industry applications (v) Energy Sector (vi) Housing sector. You can access a draft version of the proposed members and governance structure here
 
Successful launch of the Solar Manufacturing Accelerator: SolarPower Europe organized successfully the first conference of the Solar Manufaturing Accelerator on 8th July morning. In addition to the 10 CEOs presenting the ten leading industrial projects, the conference gathered leading European policy makers, including Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, Minister for Energy of the Republic of Lithuania, Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister for Economy, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of the German Region  Nordrhein-Westfalen, Barbara Botos, Deputy Minister of State for Climate Policy of the Republic of Hungary, Piotr Czopek, Director of Renewable Energy Department of the Ministry of Climate, Republic of Poland and Claude Turmes, Minister for Energy and for Spatial Planning of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Andrew McDowell, Vice-President of the EIB and Mark Nicklas, Head of Unit Industrial Value Chains in the DG GROW, European Commission, also reacted and shared their views on the future of solar in the future energy mix and the presented projects. In parallel, SolarPower Europe published project fiches for the ten solar PV wafer, cell and modules selected.
 
As the discussions on the Industrial Strategy are on-going in Brussels, SolarPower Europe will continue its work on the future of the solar PV manufacturing in Europe, including through the Solar Manufacturing Accelerator. Should you wish to be involved, please get in touch with n.chevillard@solarpowereurope.org.


EU Institutions  
 

EUROPEAN COMMISSION 

Changes in DG Trade:  As of 16th of July the DG Trade will be restructured to form three separate dedicated units for industrial sectors, energy and raw materials, high tech and SMEs. First, a new unit E3 will be created to deal with industrial endeavour bringing together the industry, energy and raw material work in G3 and the trade in goods work in F3. Second, A new unit F4 will be formed to work on the wide-ranging high-tech industry by bringing together the high-tech industry work in G3, and the dual use work in F1. Finally, a new dedicated unit F1 will focus on the SME dossier since it requires a special effort.   

State aid and IPCEIs prolonged: The Commission announced on Friday 3rd July that the guidelines for State aid for environmental protection and energy, as well as the guidelines for Important Projects of Common European Interests are prolonged until December 2021. The General Block Exemption Regulation will be prolonged until the end of 2023.   

Innovation Fund: The first call of the Innovation Fund is launched. You can find information the useful documents on the Funding and Tenders portal. You can access the call document, the methodology for the calculation of GHG emission avoidance and supporting calculator tools and the methodology for relevant cost calculation. The online applications are open on Tuesday 7 July and here you can consult the application form. On 14 July there will be a webinar covering the application procedure and general questions. The Fund also plan to open a dedicated call to small-scale projects. For more information, contact m.labordena@solarpowereurope.org 

Sustainable financeEU Taxonomy: The Commission has asked the Joint Research Centre to assess nuclear before including or excluding it from the sustainable finance EU Taxonomy. Based on the results of the scientific assessment, nuclear power projects may be eligible for a green investment label if meets the “do no significant harm principle”. If all conditions for including are met, the Commission could consider amending the delegated act on the climate objectives by the end of 2021. 


EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT 

Draft Just Transition Fund position leaves open door for gas: the REGI Committee approved on Monday the establishment of the Just Transition Fund (JTF) to alleviate the socio-economic impacts for regions most affected by the clean energy transition. You can read the press release here, for more details. The key highlight is that MEPs in the REGI committee approved a special derogation for fossil-fuel intensive regions to use funds from the JTF to finance gas projects, a less ambitious position than both the Commission’s proposal and the EU Council’s mandate. The Parliament’s final position will have to be approved at plenary in September. 

Storage Report adopted: The European Parliament adopted the energy storage report on the 29th of June where 53 MEPs voted in favour of the report out of 71 MEPs. The report includes a comprehensive strategy on energy storage covering issues related to regulatory barriers, power-to-gas, batteries, pumped storage, thermal storage and the role of consumers. In particular, the report calls for a lifecycle assessment of environmental challenges connected to batteries, and for eco-design requirements on batteries. 

Climate Law negotiations continue: the second round of negotiations to develop the EP position on the Climate Law was held on the 2nd of July. The key issue is the increase of the 2030 greenhouse gas emission target up from the current 40%. In her initial proposal, the rapporteur called for a 65% reduction target, higher than the Commission’s 50% to 55%. You may find the amendments submitted in early June here. The final vote in the ENVI Committee will be held on September 10 with the plenary vote expected to take place in October.   

COUNCIL OF THE EU 

German Presidency of the EU Council: The program for Germany’s presidency of the Council of the European Union covering the period from 1 July to 31 December 2020 is now published. During the presentation of the Council Presidency’s Programme of the ENVI Committee on the 7th of July, the German Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Mrs. Svenja Schulze presented that Europe should focus on Greening the recovery as laid out in the European Green Deal, raise climate targets and goals, establish a climate law, set a biodiversity conservation strategy, ensure digitalisation and work on EU industry resilience.  

Offshore wind and other renewables Conclusions of the Energy Council: The German Presidency circulated a working document to prepare the foreseen Council Conclusions on Offshore wind and renewable energies. The document stresses strongly the role of offshore wind, but opens the door for other renewable energies. It addresses the following questions to member states:  

· For which renewable energy technologies, including offshore wind, do you see an increased role in your energy mix on the road to 2050? How can all Member States benefit from the deployment of offshore renewable energies, taking into account their different geographical situations? 

·  What are the main challenges, including for enhanced regional cooperation among Member States, which need to be addressed in order to maximise the deployment of offshore and other renewable energies with a view to achieving climate neutrality by 2050? 

·  What initiatives can be taken by Member States and at EU level to overcome those challenges? 

Next meetings • 16th July, 10:00 – 12:00: Kick-off meeting of SolarPower Europe’s Grids Workstream. Should be interested join this meeting, please contact o.hatoum@solarpowereurope.org

• 16th July: RE-Source, the European Alliance of corporate buyers and sellers of renewable electricity, will organise a webinar on why renewable energy on-site generation is crucial to achieve a 100%-based renewable Europe and it will explore the importance of looking for win-win regulations and business models enabling lower costs for energy consumers and companies. Stay tuned!

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