Brussels – As part of its ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ Package, the Commission has published a Communication on Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation, which gives insight into how the EU will continue to support sustainable innovation in future.
The Commission recognises that the transition to a low-carbon economy is not only essential for our planetary well-being, but also presents a huge economic opportunity for Europe. To get the most out of the transition, the Commission proposes a refocused approach for supporting innovation. Whilst the private sector is expected to shoulder most of the cost, the Communication outlines the three main ‘policy levers’ controlled by the Commission, which can use to boost private investment.
Firstly, the Commission outlines the importance of political ambition, outlined through targets, standards and regulations, to set the right framework for the private sector. Proposed actions in the Communication include a review of State Aid rules for environmental protection and energy and extra consideration of Energy Union priorities in the next annual Work Programme for European Standardisation. This will focus in particular on decarbonisation and support for Green Public Procurement (GPP).
The Communication then outlines how financial instruments can lower the risk of private investments in new technologies, using public loans, equity investments and financial guarantees in projects which may not receive funding from the private sector. It discusses the funding available through the European Fund for Strategic Investments, as well as funding from the EC and European Investment Bank for Energy Demonstration Projects, as part of Horizon 2020’s InnovFin. The Commission is hoping to double InnovFin funding for such projects.
New proposals for funding instruments include a Cleaner Transport Facility to support deployment of alternative energy transport solutions by building a project pipeline and supporting collaborative initiatives. Like InnovFin, this would be co-funded by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. Further effort will be made to create a pipeline of innovative energy projects within the European Investment Project Portal.
Finally, the Commission discusses the importance of targeted research funding for clean energy innovation. The Communication states that funding should be targeted towards “disruptive innovation, incremental innovation and a number of targeted high-impact projects”. Newly proposed actions include the creation of a European Innovation Council, and the launch of a new flagship Energy Innovation prize of €5-10million to rewards breakthrough innovations. For Horizon 2020, the Commission intends to spend more than €2billion on the following four areas in 2018-2020, a 35% increase from 2015-2016:
- Decarbonising the EU building stock by 2050: from nearly-zero energy buildings to energy-plus districts;
- Strengthening EU leadership on renewables;
- Developing affordable and integrated energy storage solutions;
- Electro-mobility and a more integrated urban transport system.
For more information, see the Communication on Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation.