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Highlights on climate and energy R&I, policy roundup and funding opportunities

31 January 2022
In this issue:
 
  • Can the EU cope without Russian gas? Not without taking difficult and costly decisions, Bruegel says
  • US in talks with energy producers for alternative to Russia LNG supply to Europe
  • EU to invest over €1 billion in energy infrastructure in support of the Green Deal
  • Experts advising the European Commission criticise nuclear and gas inclusion in the taxonomy
  • Amendment to energy statistics aims at empowering Green Deal policymaking
  • EU Commission presents working document on R&I for hydrogen development.
  • French parties starting to present programmes for presidential elections, with some surprising features
  • Australian regulator finds large-scale emissions misreporting
  • US court ruling to throw out historic sale of Gulf of Mexico drilling leases due to climate impact
  • Appointment of COP27 President raises criticism in Egypt and beyond
News
EU Institutions
Can the EU cope without Russian gas? Not without taking difficult and costly decisions, Bruegel says
 
The European Union could cope with a short-term halt to all Russian gas imports but doing so would have “profound economic consequences” and require emergency measures to curb demand, according to an analysis by the think tank Bruegel. Mounting tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine have raised concerns about the Russian gas flow to Europe, as Russia supplies 40% of gas use. The analysis by Bruegel looks at the current gas supply situation and concludes that whatever happens, the most efficient solution would require demand-side adjustments to reduce dependency on gas, rather than just replacing Russian gas with imports from another country. Although scaling up low carbon technologies could reduce dependency on gas, for some regions at certain times gas-fired power plants remain the only option. A significant share of the 900 TWh of gas consumed in the EU last year will still be necessary in 2022, unless high electricity prices drastically reduce power consumption, which would place governments across Europe in a very difficult spot.
 
Read more here and here
 
 
US in talks with energy producers for alternative to Russia LNG supply to Europe
 
Amidst uncertainties, officials from the Biden administration have confirmed being in talks with major energy-producing countries and companies around the world over a potential diversion of supplies to Europe, would the situation escalate on the border between Ukraine and Russia. Reuters reports that interviewed officials did not specify the countries or companies they were in talks with, but said they included a broad range of suppliers, including sellers of liquefied natural gas (LNG). They have been working to identify additional volumes of non-Russian natural gas from various areas of the world; from North Africa and the Middle East to Asia and the US. However, the White House’s plan is complicated by the fact that the world’s LNG producers are already churning out as much as they can, leaving little room available to substitute large volumes from Russia.
 
Read more here
 
 
EU to invest over €1 billion in energy infrastructure in support of the Green Deal

EU countries have agreed on a Commission proposal to invest €1.037 billion in 5 cross-border infrastructure projects under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for trans-European energy networks.  The largest amount of funding will go to the EuroAsia interconnector project (€675 million) to support the first electricity interconnection between Cyprus and the European grid. The remaining of funding will go towards the Baltic Synchronisation Project (€170 million) for grid reinforcement in Poland and upgrading the transmission infrastructure in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Another €127 million will be dedicated to the Aurora line for the development of a third transmission line between Sweden and Finland, and another €78 million to the Chiren expansion to increase the capacity of gas storage facility in Bulgaria. The last €4 million will be used on the Northern Lights Phase II study looking into the expansion of CO2 transport and temporary storage capacity in Norway.
 
Read more here
 

Experts advising the European Commission criticise nuclear and gas inclusion in the taxonomy
 
On Monday 24 January, the European Commission advisory board of the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance published an opinion panning the inclusion of gas and nuclear as “transitional” sources in the Second Delegated Act of the EU Taxonomy. According to the experts, fossil gas does not have reasons to be labelled as green, even considering the limiting criteria proposed by the Commission. The advisers say that the chosen criteria will not be enough to align the Taxonomy with the Green Deal goals, aiming to bring emissions down to net-zero emissions by 2050. The opinion on gas is different from the views expressed by some EU member states, Germany in particular, who still support the source as a bridge towards climate neutrality. The experts criticised also nuclear’s inclusion, saying it contradicts the Green Deal objectives regarding water protection, circular economy, pollution prevention, and biodiversity protection.
 
Read more here
 
 
Amendment to energy statistics aims at empowering Green Deal policymaking
 
On Friday 28 January, the European Commission has adopted an amendment of the energy statistics regulation, in view of further supporting the European Green Deal. Through this amendment, new set of statistics will be provided by Eurostat, which will be first available for the year 2022. The new statistics will provide insight into new areas, including but not only: hydrogen and other energy carriers previously uncovered; decentralised production of electricity, to monitor small producers such as households/firms; large-scale batteries; additional renewable fuels - for example, detailed characteristics of heat pumps and closer monitoring of solar photovoltaic (PV) production; the energy consumption in data centres. The amendment proposal was endorsed by a large majority of the EU member states.
 
Read more here
 
 
EU Commission presents working document on R&I for hydrogen development.
 
Given the crucial importance of hydrogen in the path towards climate neutrality, a new Commission Staff Working Document introduces the importance of R&I for clean hydrogen production. The document clearly indicates that the production of clean hydrogen in the EU relies upon the availability of abundant and low-cost renewable energies, underlining that the scope of hydrogen’s application is continuously increasing. The experts notice that “with the constant emergence of new applications, the supply chain becomes more complex and continuous improvements (new materials, efficiency, reliability, lifetime, cost, interoperability) are still needed”. Efforts are then requested in many fields: circularity of hydrogen equipment, environmental and socio-economic impact of hydrogen technology, reducing use and dependence from critical raw materials, safety issues along the whole value chain to build the confidence needed for widespread take-up in society.
 
Read more here
Member States News
French parties are starting to present their programmes for the upcoming presidential elections, with some surprising features. The Rassemblement National’s programme, the party of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, will support nuclear and hydrogen, but not wind energy, defined by the party’s spokesperson “an ecological and economic aberration” that “offers no prospect of improvement”. Read more here
International Energy News
Australian regulator finds large-scale emissions misreporting
 
The Australian government found that US coalmining company Peabody Energy has repeatedly submitted incorrect greenhouse gas emissions reports, prompting questions about the reliability of national climate data based on company assessments. The Clean Energy Regulator found Peabody had a history of filing inaccurate reports required under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act. It follows Dutch scientists examining satellite imagery and finding the amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, leaking from some Queensland coalmines was greater than has been reported. Peabody is the fifth-biggest coalminer in Australia, owning two thermal coalmines and five metallurgical coalmines. Annica Schoo, the lead environmental investigator at the Australian Conservation Foundation, said there were “more and more examples” of companies submitting emissions data that did not stand up to scrutiny, while the accuracy of this data is critical to getting on top of the climate crisis.
 
Read more here
 
 
US court ruling to throw out historic sale of Gulf of Mexico drilling leases due to climate impact
 
After a massive sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, a US federal judge invalidated the transactions, citing research in claiming the government had not conducted a sufficient environmental review. The judge invalidated the results of an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico saying the Biden administration failed to properly account for the auction's climate change impact. The decision by the US District Court for the District of Columbia forces federal agencies to perform a new environmental analysis to determine whether to conduct the sale again that would allow offshore drilling in 32.37 million hectares of the Gulf of Mexico. Shell, BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil were the companies bidding for drilling rights. Experts say that this decision has cast uncertainty over the future of the US federal offshore drilling program, which has been a big source of public revenue for decades. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for 15% of existing U.S. oil production and 5% of dry natural gas output.
 
Read more here and here
 
 
Appointment of COP27 President raises criticism in Egypt and beyond
 
Egypt has named the president of the upcoming COP27, but contrary to the expectations of many, environment minister Yasmine Fouad did not get the final position. Minster Fouad is a climate scientist with substantial international experience, who had an important role in co-chairing finance talks at COP26. Instead, the top COP27 position went to the Egypt foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, a man with no previous experience or any record in climate diplomacy. The controversial choice raised a lot of criticism and debates on the history of COP presidential appointments, which is full of examples of climate expertise being trumped by political choice.
 
Read more here
 
EU Institutional Agenda
Council of the EU
Working Party on Energy, 
1 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on the Environment,
1 February
Agenda not available yet
Working Party on Energy,
3 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on the Environment,
3-4 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on International Environment Issues,
3 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on Energy,
7 February
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on the Environment,
7 February
Agenda not available yet.
European Parliament
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy,
2-3 February
Agenda available here
  • Social Climate Fund
  • Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism
  • EU framework to decarbonise gas markets, promote hydrogen and reduce methane emissions
  • Revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive
EERA Events 
#Horizon Europe

EERA Horizon Europe Brokerage Event
Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

Following the good reception of the Horizon Europe brokerage event organized last year, EERA is organizing a new one dedicated to the Horizon Europe’s calls of 2022. The purpose of the event, targeting exclusively the EERA community, is to foster transversal collaboration with the aim of creating new and strengthening existing consortia.

#Energy Materials

EM4I 4th Workshop - Sustainability Assessment of materials and technologies for clean energy transition
Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

The 4th of the Energy Materials 4 Innovation (EM4I) workshop will focus on the societal needs and technological advancement, and how to foster new collaborations necessary for achieving the Clean Energy Transition. During the second day of the workshop, invited experts will discuss key topics: LCSA, sustainable manufacturing, critical raw materials, social-economic aspects and 2050 scenarios. 

External Events
#Methane Regulation

EU Methane Regulation: How can policymakers raise ambition?
Location: Online & Brussels
Information & registration: click here

Join this EURATIC Virtual Conference to discuss how the EU can tackle energy sector methane emissions and reach its 2030 climate targets and the 2050 climate neutrality goals. 

#Hydrogen strategy

Ensuring the effective integration of hydrogen within the EU's energy system
Location: Online & Brussels
Information & registration: click here

Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss the EU's shift from natural gas to renewable and low-carbon gases, including hydrogen. 

#EU Industry Days

Unlocking the future: EU industrial ecosystems on the path to the green and digital transition
Location: Online & Brussels
Information & registration: click here

EU Industry Days is Europe's flagship annual event, highlighting industrial frontrunners and ongoing industrial policy discussions whilst improving the knowledge base of European industry. The 2022 edition will take place in a hybrid format in Brussels and will stimulate discussions across industrial ecosystems. It will also hold discussions on how the young generation can shape the future of the EU industry, in line with the European Year of Youth. 

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