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

 17 January 2022
In this issue:
 
  • MEP suggests significant changes to European Commission’s carbon border proposal
  • Money pledged to green the steel industry falls way short, MEP report warns
  • Eurostat report: EU economy greenhouse gas emissions -24% since 2008
  • Nuclear investments needed, Commission says, to sustain Europe’s electricity system
  • Call for proposals launched under EU - Breakthrough Energy Catalyst partnership for green tech
  • EU Member States asking for inquiry into manipulation of gas markets
  • Czech Republic and Slovenia announce coal exit date by 2033
  • IEA Executive Director accuses Russia of worsening energy crisis in Europe
  • IRENA calls for international collaboration for the renewable energy deployment in Africa
  • IRENA releases report on geopolitics of hydrogen
  • India strengthens international collaboration as it plans major renewables and hydrogen push
News
EU Institutions
MEP suggests significant changes to European Commission’s carbon border proposal

The proposed carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), aiming to protect EU businesses from unfair competition and carbon-leakage, is now subject to negotiations within the EU Parliament and the EU Council. In Parliament, the EU lawmaker in charge of negotiations, Mohammed Chahim from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, made substantial and important changes to the Commission’s initial text, in a draft published by Euractiv. One amendment would expand the levy’s scope, extending the initial proposal - covering iron and steel, cement, fertiliser, aluminium, and electricity generation - to organic chemical, hydrogen, and polymers. The MEP’s report also targets indirect emissions, a point the Commission wanted to include in future revisions of the legislation. Furthermore, the report requests shortening by one year the trial period to fully implement the levy by 2025.  Mr. Chahim also suggests scrapping the Commission’s proposal for each EU country to deal with import charges, replacing it with an EU-level “CBAM Authority” as to avoid discrepancies between Member States. In the next step, the report will be debated by EU lawmakers to determine a common position, before final talks with the Council and the Commission.  
 
Read more here
 
 
Money pledged to green the steel industry falls way short, MEP report warns
 
Steel manufacturing accounts for nearly 6% of EU emissions but consumers are largely oblivious to the carbon cost embedded in roads, buildings and railways. According to a report requested by the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy committee, it will take around €50-60 billion of investments to roll out new low-carbon steel technology, and up to €120 billion a year to cover capital and operating costs. By contrasts, the European Clean Steel Partnership, launched last year, has mustered €700 million of EU public money – including from Horizon Europe- and €1 billion from the private sector. The report sets out several alternatives to traditional blast furnace or basic oxygen furnace technology, which accounts for nearly 60% of EU manufacturing, yet it doesn’t take view on which alternatives could best be implemented by the EU. Across Europe, steel manufacturing is opting for carbon replacement, rather than carbon capture, while with the upcoming implementation of the CBAM, a major challenge for the EU steel industry will be to remain competitive on the global markets, with China yet to sign up to a COP26 convention to make low carbon steel the preferred choice.
 
Read more here
 
 
Eurostat report: EU economy greenhouse gas emissions -24% since 2008
 
Eurostat reports that in 2020 greenhouse gas generated by economic activities of EU resident units stood at 3.5 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalents. Compared with 2019, there was a 9% decrease, and a 24% decrease compared to 2008. The activity with the highest GHG emissions in 2020 was the manufacturing industry (740 million of tonnes of CO2; 21% of GHG emissions), followed by the supply of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning (719 million tonnes of CO2; also 21%), and total activities by households (20%). Between 2008 (when first recorded) and 2020, the largest relative decrease of GHG emissions was recorded in the supply of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning (-41%), followed by mining and quarrying (-38%) and manufacturing (-27%).
 
Read more here
 
 
Nuclear investments needed, Commission says, to sustain Europe’s electricity system
 
The European Commission has called for investments in nuclear energy through its Commissioners for Industry and Energy, both signalling that at least €50 billion will be needed to maintain existing nuclear plants, while new generation ones could need around €500 billion. The Commissioner for Industry Thierry Breton has also positively commented the possible introduction of gas and nuclear in the EU’s green taxonomy, currently debated by member states (with Austria and Germany being the main opposers). The most recent data from Eurostat show that nuclear represents 25% of the EU’s electricity production, an impressive amount considering that this electricity is only produced by 13 member states. Commissioner Breton also estimated that by 2050, this proportion would be reduced to around 15%.
 
Read more here
 
 
Call for proposals launched under EU - Breakthrough Energy Catalyst partnership for green tech
 
Last week, Breakthrough Energy Catalyst published a request for proposals for large-scale deep green tech projects based in Europe. This follows the signing of a partnership between the EU and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst back in November 2021 at COP26, aiming to mobilise $1 billion (around €820 million) until 2026 to encourage the development of innovative technologies in support of the European Green Deal ambitions. The request for proposals will trigger investments in a variety of projects in the areas of clean hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, direct air capture, and long-duration energy storage. EU funding for the EU-Catalyst Partnership comes from Horizon Europe and the Innovation Fund, managed under InvestEU. Each euro of public funding is expected to leverage three euros of private funds.
 
Read more here
 
 
EU Member States asking for inquiry into manipulation of gas markets
 
As confirmed by the Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, the European Commission's competition department is starting to gather evidence on possible gas market manipulation by suppliers during the ongoing energy price emergency. Questionnaires have been developed and sent out in order to assess “whether the current situation (…) can be attributed to commercial conduct by market participants”. A problem can only be encountered if evidence showing an agreement or practice that restricts competition is found. The investigation has been initiated after member states, among others Poland, have requested an antitrust investigation into Russia’s Gazprom practices, in addition to a previous call from Members of the European Parliament to look into the matter.
 
Read more here
Member States News
Czech Republic and Slovenia announce coal exit date by 2033. The announcement means both countries will become eligible to draw from the EU’s €17.5 billion Just Transition Fund, aiming to support regional green transition from coal.  Read more here and here
 
International Energy News
IEA Executive Director accuses Russia of worsening energy crisis in Europe
 
Against the backdrop of a continued energy prices crisis in Europe, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published a series of articles dedicated to analyzing the causes of the energy crisis and discussing potential ways of overcoming it. In addition Fatih Birol, IEA's chief, published an opinion last week that directly accused Russia of worsening the crisis. Mr. Birol pointed out that there are "strong elements of artificial tightness" in European gas markets which result from "the behaviour of Russia's state-controlled gas supplier". IEA's chief mentioned that unlike other pipeline suppliers in Europe (i.e. Algeria, Azerbaijan and Norway), Russia has reduced its exports to Europe by 25% in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020 – and by 22% compared with its 2019 levels. IEA estimates that against today's low baseline, Russia could increase deliveries to Europe by at least one-third, or over 3 billion cubic metres per month. This amount equates to almost 10% of the European Union's average monthly gas consumption and would provide significant relief to European gas markets.
 
Read more here, here
 
 
IRENA calls for international collaboration for the renewable energy deployment in Africa
 
The report 'Renewable Energy Market Analysis: Africa and its Regions' published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) shows that Africa is prospering significantly from development enabled by renewables, while greatly improving energy access and offering benefits to people across the continent. According to the report, an integrated policy framework built around the energy transition could bring a wave of new sustainable energy investment to Africa, growing the region's economy by 6.4 per cent by 2050.
 
Aligning the energy transition in Africa with global climate ambitions can generate up to 26 million more jobs by 2050 than the number anticipated under a business-as-usual scenario. Clean energy job creation in Africa would outstrip fossil-fuel-related job losses by a factor of four, presenting a significant net gain to regional economies. Coal, natural gas and oil together account for about 70 per cent of Africa's total electricity generation today and conventional power attracts far more funding than renewables in Africa. The report emphasizes that coordinated efforts should be made to ensure public spending – the dominant source of energy transition finance in Africa – clearly prioritizes renewables. Of the $2.8 trillion invested in renewables globally between 2000 and 2020, only two per cent went to Africa, despite the continent's enormous renewable energy potential.
 
Read the report here
 
 
IRENA releases report on geopolitics of hydrogen
 
IRENA has carried out an in-depth analysis of the geopolitics of hydrogen as part of the work of the Collaborative Framework on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation (CF-GET). The report considers whether and how hydrogen may disrupt future energy systems, reflecting on many of the key themes discussed in the Global Commission's report, A New World – The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation. In the new report, IRENA argues that green hydrogen could disrupt global trade and bilateral energy relations, reshaping the positioning of states with new hydrogen exporters and importers emerging. The possible pathway on which hydrogen might evolve still involves many uncertainties. With the growing momentum to establish a global hydrogen market comes the need for a deeper understanding of its broader effects, including geopolitical aspects.
 
Read the report here
 
 
India strengthens international collaboration as it plans major renewables and hydrogen push
 
India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy signed a strategic partnership agreement with IRENA last week, signalling its intent to strengthen further its collaboration with IRENA in the field of renewable energy. India installed 13 gigawatts (GW) of renewables in 2021 and has grown its capacity by over 53 GW in the last five years, positioning it as one of the fastest-growing renewable energy adopters in the world. With massive renewable energy potential, India also aims to become a major producer of green hydrogen to support the decarbonization of its industrial economy. According to IRENA, hydrogen will account for around 12 per cent of total energy supply in a 1.5°C world by 2050.
 
Under the partnership, IRENA will facilitate knowledge sharing from India on scaling-up renewable energy and clean energy technologies and support India's efforts to advance cost-effective decarbonization through the development of domestic green hydrogen. The two will work closely to assess the potential role green hydrogen can play both as an enabler of the transition in India and as a new source of national energy exports.
 
Read more here
 
 
EU Institutional Agenda
Council of the EU
Working Party on the Environment, 
18-19 January
Agenda not available yet.
Informal meetings of environment and energy ministers,
20-22 January
Agenda not available yet
Working Party on Research,
20 January
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on the Environment,
24 January
Agenda not available yet.
Working Party on International Environment Issues,
24 January
Agenda not available yet.
EERA Events 
#Energy Transition

Pan-European Clean Energy Transition: ways to strengthen transnational cooperation
Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

Collaboration and innovation in energy research can only lead to a successful clean energy transition with the strong acceptance and commitment of the whole of Europe. This event will address this issue by giving representatives of the EU13, Greece and Portugal the opportunity to gain more knowledge about the initiatives favouring their countries' institutions and to find a way forward to strengthening cooperation in the EU. 

#Carbon Cycles

Conference on Sustainable Carbon Cycles
Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

On 31 January, the European Commission will host a virtual conference on sustainable carbon cycles. The conference will bring together decision makers and experts from different backgrounds to share their experiences in view of the upcoming EU regulatory initiative on the certification of carbon removals.

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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