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EERA Weekly Policy Update
Highlights on climate and energy R&I, policy roundup and funding opportunities 

 20 December 2021
Dear readers, this issue of the Weekly Policy Update is the last one you will receive this year, with the team taking a break for the festivities. We hope you enjoyed our updates throughout the year and from our side, happy holidays and a happy new year! We will be back with the main news from Brussels and beyond on the 10th of January. 
In this issue:
 
  • European Commission proposes new EU framework to decarbonize gas markets, promote hydrogen and reduce methane emissions
  • European Commission unveils recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings and new measures to boost the Renovation Wave
  • Mixed reactions from researchers on first Horizon Europe’s appraisal
  • New regulation on carbon removal set to come in 2022, build internal market for CCUS
  • New TEN-E Regulation excludes new gas and oil projects, increases focus on offshore grid and hydrogen
  • Energy slips out of EU Council meeting conclusion as disagreement mounts on ETS and taxonomy
  • European Commission publishes new guidelines for a fair transition towards climate neutrality
  • European Commission increases Horizon Europe budget for Missions in health, climate and the environment
  • The Netherlands reaches coalition deal with plans to build two new nuclear centrals
  • Poland and Germany clash on Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  • IEA publishes a new report on Coal 2021
  • Energy Monitor analysis: do current trends in clean energy transition correspond to the net-zero by 2050 scenario?
News
EU Institutions
European Commission proposes new EU framework to decarbonize gas markets, promote hydrogen and reduce methane emissions
 
On 15 December, the Commission adopted a set of legislative proposals to decarbonize the EU gas market by facilitating the uptake of renewable and low carbon gases, including hydrogen, and to ensure energy security. The proposals (regulation and directive) aim at creating the conditions for a shift from fossil natural gas to renewable and low-carbon gases, in particular biomethane and hydrogen, and strengthen the resilience of the gas system. One of the main aims is to establish a market for hydrogen that fosters an environment for investment, enables development and dedicated infrastructure, and includes trade with third countries. The Commission is also following up on the EU Methane Strategy and its international commitments with proposals to reduce methane emissions in the energy sector in European and the global supply chain, putting forward stricter rules to detect and repair methane leaks and limit venting and flaring.
 
Read more here
 
 
European Commission unveils recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings and new measures to boost the Renovation Wave
 
Aligning the energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD) with the Green Deal, the recast aims to facilitate the renovation of homes, schools, hospitals, offices, and other buildings across Europe, with new constructions built after 2030 being mandatorily “zero emissions”. In the context of renovation, the proposal requires the worst-performing 15% of the building stock of each Member State to be upgraded from an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) “G” to at least a “F” by 2027. National Buildings Renovation Plans will be fully integrated into National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), which would have to include roadmaps for phasing out fossil fuels in heating and cooling by 2040 at least. The Commission also adopted new methodology rules for renewable cooling and district cooling that can be counted towards EU renewable energy targets.  The new rules pushing for renovation would create an estimated 160,000 jobs in the energy and heating sector by 2030. Yet, labour and skill shortages in Europe’s construction sector, caused by an ageing workforce and unattractive employment conditions, threaten to limit the speed of the so-called Renovation Wave.
 
Read more here and here
 
 
Mixed reactions from researchers on first Horizon Europe’s appraisal
 
The portal Science|Business has conducted a survey among researchers exploring their first impressions on Horizon Europe. The research community is divided, with some praising the lighter administrative touch and others suggesting it would be better to revert to paper submissions. While most agree that Horizon Europe calls are more ambitious than ever, few could fit their proposals in the new 45-page limit. After the first round of calls, researchers reported struggles to define the impact of their projects, which requires bringing different kinds of organisations and a larger budget. Furthermore, the delayed launch of the programme made it difficult for many researchers to get their proposals ready on time and find the right partners to get involved in project. In addition, the uncertainty of associated countries, some lack of clarity and technical issues also plagued the submission process.
 
Read more here    
 
 
New regulation on carbon removal set to come in 2022, build internal market for CCUS
 
The EU Green Deal welcomed a new initiative from the Commission on 15 December, with the publication of the Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles. With the EU looking for solutions to reduce its reliance on fossil carbon, the Communication sets out its hopes for the development of sectors including carbon farming, innovative industrial solutions and regulation. The document introduces actions to support the upscale of carbon farming, aiming to encourage land managers to implement carbon sequestration and biodiversity protection technologies. In the Communication, the European Commission also includes a plan to develop an internal market for capturing, using and storing carbon. This instrument should bring about the removal of 5Mt of CO2 annually by 2030. The Commission intends to publish the regulatory framework for the carbon removal certification by the end of 2022.
 
Read more here
 
 
New TEN-E Regulation excludes new gas and oil projects, increases focus on offshore grid and hydrogen
 
The EU institutions have reached an agreement on the new rules for the cross-border energy infrastructure and future Projects of Common Interest (PCIs), based on the Commission proposal for renewing the Trans-European network for Energy (TEN-E) Regulation. The main aim is to introduce a series of novelties that will modernise the current regulations, which is not totally in line with the Green Deal objectives (as it dates back to 2013). There are key provisions in the new formulation, including an increased focus on offshore grid cooperation, smart electricity grids, hydrogen networks and mandatory sustainability assessments. New is also the inclusion of projects connecting the EU with external countries, called Projects of Mutual Interest (PMIs). The institutions all agree that support for new natural gas and oil projects will be stopped, but hydrogen and gas blending solutions will be supported as a transitional measure until 2029.
 
Read more here
 
 
Energy slips out of EU Council meeting conclusion as disagreement mounts on ETS and taxonomy
 
EU leaders meeting in Brussels failed to reach an agreement on the energy issues tabled in last week’s agenda, mainly revolving around the EU Emission Trading System and the green taxonomy. As reported by journalists, Poland and Czech Republic asked for ETS exemptions by claiming that high ETS prices were to blame for the spike in energy prices, but met opposing views from other countries. A similar split developed over the soon-to-be-published rules on the taxonomy for green investments, which will define whether gas and nuclear projects will be subject to possible EU funding. The EU countries are split on the issue, with a bloc strongly opposing nuclear energy’s inclusion in the taxonomy. In the end, as no agreement was found, the “Energy” chapter of the conclusions was not inserted in the final meeting’s document.
 
Read more here
 
 
European Commission publishes new guidelines for a fair transition towards climate neutrality
 
Last week the European Commission issued new policy guidelines for Member States for a fair and inclusive transition towards climate neutrality. The proposal for a Council Recommendation complements the package on delivering the Green Deal already published in July. The document identifies a set of measures and actions that Member States can rely on to address relevant employment and social aspects linked to the transition. Among the measures that Member States are encouraged to adopt are supporting quality employment and facilitating job-to-job transitions, supporting equal access to quality education and training, supporting tax-benefit and social protection systems, supporting affordable access to essential services, coordinating policy action involving all relevant stakeholders through a whole-of-economy approach, and ensuring optimal use of public and private funding.
 
Read more here
 
 
European Commission increases Horizon Europe budget for Missions in health, climate and the environment
 
The European Commission has adopted an amendment to the Horizon Europe work programme for the next two years to increase the budget available by € 673 million. The new funds will be dedicated to 19 research calls to roll out the five EU Missions to fight cancer, climate change adaptation, protect seas and rivers, promote carbon neutral cities and foster soil health. EU Missions are a new kind of European research programme tackling social challenges through the identification of clear goals and the mobilisation of public and private actors. Eventually, additional funding will be allocated after 2022 to foster more investment in innovation and demonstration projects. In the meantime, the discussion between the European Parliament and the Council over the transfer of € 369 million unspent from the former research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, to Horizon Europe remains unsolved.
 
Read more here, here and here
Member States News
The Netherlands reaches coalition deal with plans to build two new nuclear centrals. The new government aims to increase the ambition of existing climate goals for 2030 from a 49% cut below 1990 levels, to “at least” 55% cut, with policy focusing on a higher 60% target. Read more here.
 
 
Poland and Germany clash on Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In a meeting between the two governments, the Polish Prime Minister expressed his disagreement on the completion of the pipeline, arguing it will give too much leverage to Russia in determining the flow of gas to Ukraine and the EU. The German coalition is also struggling to come to terms regarding the contested project. Read more here.
International Energy News
IEA publishes a new report on Coal 2021
 
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published a new report: “Coal 2021: Analysis and forecast to 2024”. Globally, coal is the largest source of electricity generation, the second-largest source of primary energy and the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions. Coal 2021 places a special focus on China – the largest consumer, producer and importer of coal – whose dominance of coal markets has no parallel with any other country or any other fuel. India, the second-largest producer, consumer and importer, also receives special attention. Coal 2021 looks for the underlying indicators that will determine coal markets realities through 2024. Commenting on the release of the report, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol labeled coal "the single largest source of global carbon emissions” . He expressed deep concern in relation to this year’s historically high level of coal power generation, calling it a worrying sign of “how far off track the world is in its efforts to put emissions into decline towards net-zero".
 
Read more here
 
 
Energy Monitor analysis: do current trends in clean energy transition correspond to the net-zero by 2050 scenario?
 
The Energy Monitor portal published a series of analytical articles forecasting the investment trends associated with different energy technologies and energy sources, juxtaposing these trends with the IEA net-zero scenario.
Based on its analysis, oil and gas investments are forecast to be on track with net-zero by 2050 averaging $350bn investment yearly from 2021 to 2030 – a maximum investment for oil and gas set by the IEA securing reaching the 2050 zero-emissions goals. The coal forecast is less optimistic: currently, there are more than 200 coal power plants at the pre-construction stage, most of which are in Indonesia, India and China. If all these plants are approved – and neither China nor India have formally pledged to phase-out coal – then the world will not be on track to net zero.
Investment in Electric Vehicles (EV), one of the key parameters in the IEA net-zero-by-2050 scenario, is, according to the Energy Monitor, highly insufficient. IEA’s estimations require that 60% of passenger car sales globally must be EVs by 2030. The analysis shows that we are currently on track to maximum 25% of those.
Electrification is another crucial trend that defines the IEA net-zero by 2050 future. To reach the goals set by the IEA, global electricity demand will have to more than double between 2020 and 2050. The share of renewables in electricity generation will have to increase from 29% in 2020, to 60% in 2030 and 90% by 2050. Solar and wind are seen as the technologies that will provide the biggest share of electricity in the mix. The forecast suggests that in spite of a significant forecast growth in solar and wind capacity additions, the overall capacity increase between 2022 and 2030 is set to be 50% below what is needed to achieve net-zero by 2050.
 
Read more here, here and here
 
EU Institutional Agenda
Council of the EU
Working Party on International Environment Issues,
21 December
Agenda not available yet
Coreper I,
22 December
Agenda not available yet.
EERA Events 
#Energy Materials

Energy Material 4 Innovation (EM4I) Third Workshop: Approaches for the Implementation of Digital Twins
Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

The third workshop of the EM4I series will hold a half-day filled with webinars given by experts on cross-cutting research methodologies on digital twins, multiscale modelling workflows, AI, and non-destructive examination techniques. 

External Events
#Molecular Simulation

(i)RASPA online school/workshop: Software for visualization and simulation of porous materials and fluids 

Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

The workshop focuses on a practical understanding of visualization and molecular simulation of nanoporous materials and fluids, using iRASPA and RASPA. 

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