On 8 July, the European Commission has published its long awaited new Smart Sector Integration Strategy as well as its new Strategy for Hydrogen. CEEP has welcomed the approach to publish such highly interlinked topics at the same time and therefore provide a potential to stimulate the development of energy efficient technologies and accelerate the decarbonisation process to reach for a climate neutral Europe by 2050.

It is also welcomed that many of our suggested proposals in CEEP’s Input to the Smart Sector Integration in regard to use of electricity, renewable and decarbonised gases, buildings, industry, flexibility option, such as smart grids, and local operators have been considered in this proposal. Before the publication of the strategies, CEEP organised two online meetings with Kitti Nyitrai, member of the cabinet of Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, and with Stefaan Vergote, Head of Unit Strategy and economic Assessment at DG CLIMA, who are both responsible in the development of the strategies. The meetings were led by CEEP Energy Task Force chair Elmar Thyen and vice-chair Alain Taccoen: CEEP was able to advocate our calls for a holistic concept that includes both electricity, renewable and decarbonised gases as well as innovative heating and cooling solutions for the industry, energy and transport sector.

CEEP believes that a one technology solution will not solve the complex challenges to reduce emissions whilst remaining energy efficient, affordable and secure, but through a significant increase of cross-sectoral cooperation to maximise the true potential of each sector and application.

The Smart Sector Integration Strategy is now planned to be the foundational layout of the green energy transition and is based on three main pillars. First, a ‘circular’ energy system with a higher energy efficiency goal will promote the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle in practice, local energy sources, waste to energy as well as the principles of the Renovation wave. Secondly, a greater direct electrification of end-use sectors using more directly electricity produced from local renewable energy sources. And thirdly, promotion for clean fuels, including renewable hydrogen and sustainable biofuels and biogas. The Commission proposes a new classification and certification system for renewable and low-carbon fuels. Under these three pillar, the Commission put together a concrete action plan divided into six chapters with 38 concrete policy proposals and guidelines for Member States. These include the revision of existing legislation, financial support, research and deployment of new technologies and digital tools, guidance to Member States on fiscal measures and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, market governance reform and infrastructure planning, and improved information to consumers. The aim is that the strategy will serve as a compass that supports Member States to direct them in their efforts to decarbonise in the same direction.

The Hydrogen Strategy is the first EU wide strategy promoting the use of hydrogen in the energy system and addresses how to transform this potential into the existing sectors, through investments, regulation, market creation and research and innovation. It explains that the main priority on how to produce hydrogen is the use of solar and wind energy, but also considers for the short- and medium-term low-carbon hydrogen. The aim of this strategy is to set out a gradual scheme to slowly and effectively introduce hydrogen as a storage and energy production option into the energy system:

From 2020 to 2024, the aim is to install at least 6 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU, and the production of up to one million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.

From 2025 to 2030, the aim is to make hydrogen an intrinsic part of the integrated energy system, with at least 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and the production of up to ten million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU.

From 2030 to 2050, the aim is to have renewable hydrogen technologies which are well matured in the energy system and can be deployed at large scale across all hard-to-decarbonise sectors.

In support of this strategy, the Commission has launched the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance with industry leaders, civil society, national and regional ministers and the European Investment Bank. The Alliance will build up an investment pipeline for scaled-up production and will support demand for clean hydrogen in the EU.

The next step for the Commission is the evaluation of the planned Sustainable and Smart Mobility strategy, regarding which an open consultation has already been published. This will additionally strengthen the sector integration development in Europe. Also, the Commission intends to invite interested parties to debate in a large dedicated public event at the end of this year and to contribute to the public consultations and impact assessments that will inform the preparation of the follow-up proposals  envisaged for 2021 and beyond as mentioned in the key action of the documents. (see original document in the links above).

After the summer break, CEEP will kick off the discussion again and invites its members to join its Smart Sector Integration Webinar on 15 September from 10h00 to 11h00 with confirmed Panel speaker Antonio Lopez-Nicolas, Deputy Head of the Renewable Energy Unit at DG ENER.  Further information on how to log in and the draft agenda will be shared with you in due course.

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