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

 13 December 2021
In this issue:
 
  • ESFRI sets down plan for the single most expensive project to date
  • EEB: most rechargeable batteries in consumer electronics and e-bikes or scooters non-replaceable or non-repairable
  • Commission approves Croatian aid scheme to support electricity generation from renewables
  • EU aiming to boost circular economy in support of sustainability goals
  • Five Western Balkans, Israel and Georgia join Horizon Europe
  • EU carbon price to hit €100 by year end after record run – analysts say
  • Environmental NGOs dissatisfied with leaked EU gas package’s draft
  • Report on biofuels suggests that current EU modelling might be outdated
  • Germany’s new government is poised to increase sustainability efforts, but internal clash might prove an obstacle.
  • Germany minister of economy and climate, Robert Habeck, will push to speed up the expansion of offshore wind capacity.
  • Italy is lagging behind in decarbonising its electricity sector.
  • Nord Stream 2: a source of leverage on Russia in the Ukraine crisis
  • Current trends in fossil fuel investments
News
EU Institutions
ESFRI sets down plan for the single most expensive project to date
 
According to the latest roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI), Europe needs to build eleven new international research labs, calling for an additional €4 billion investment. The 11 research infrastructures listed in the roadmap would cost €380 million on average, a steep increase from previous plans. Over the past 20 years, the EU has already invested 20€ billion in research infrastructures. For the European Commission’s director general for research and innovation, Jean-Eric Paquet, the Commission will have to look into the plan, requiring advance talks on mixed funding sources from national and EU budgets. At EU level, the allocation for large research labs in Horizon Europe is slightly lower than under Horizon2020, with an allocated 2.4€ billion for the period of 2021-2027, requiring Member States to foot the bill. That being said, the Czech government is planning to put research infrastructures at the top of its agenda when taking over the rotating Council presidency in July 2022. 
 
Read more here
 
 
EEB: most rechargeable batteries in consumer electronics and e-bikes or scooters non-replaceable or non-repairable
 
The European Environment Bureau has recently released the Removable, replaceable and repairable batteries report showing that most of rechargeable batteries used for consumer devices and e-bikes or scooters in the EU are either non-replaceable or non-repairable. This results in shorter product lifetimes, increased electronic waste, loss of rare raw materials such as cobalt and indium, and unnecessary expenditure for consumers. The average battery life for most products is around three years, after which the majority are prematurely discarded. Moreover, poor product design and software locks make it challenging to replace or repair damaged batteries. A group of forty human rights and environmental NGOs has signed an open letter asking the EU to accelerate the enaction of the new sustainable battery law that the Commission proposed in December 2020.
 
Read more here
 
 
Commission approves Croatian aid scheme to support electricity generation from renewables
 
The European Commission has approved the Croatian aid scheme to support electricity from renewable sources. The plan was approved within the scope of the Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy, a set of rules introduced to support Member States reaching EU’s energy and climate targets while reducing the cost for taxpayers and not unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. As the Commissioner for competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, stated, “This €783 million scheme will enable Croatia to support renewable electricity production from a wide range of technologies. The measure will contribute to the reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the EU Green Deal objectives and the environmental targets set in Croatia’s Recovery and Resilience plan”.
 
Read more here
 
 
EU aiming to boost circular economy in support of sustainability goals
 
In a push to address emissions and energy use connected to materials used in production processes, the EU is planning to target these issues with a sustainable product initiative. Due to be launched next year, the European Commission plans to use the initiative to introduce a “digital product passport”, informing users about the composition of goods in a product to increase reusing and recycling. These efforts match the actions already established in the context of the Ecodesign directive, aiming at making products more adapt to circular practices. The recently published report on the Ecodesign directive impact shows that ecodesign measures represented in 2020 energy savings amounting to 7% of the total EU27 primary energy consumption in 2019. The measures also produced a reduction of GHG emissions amounting to 4.5% of the EU27 total emissions in 2018.
 
Read more here
 
 
Five Western Balkans, Israel and Georgia join Horizon Europe
 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia signed on December 6 their Association Agreements to the Horizon Europe programme, with Albania expected to follow suit in the upcoming weeks, renewing their association to Europe’s R&I programmes. Read more here
 
Georgia and Israel also signed their Association Agreements. The former first took part to Horizon 2020 in 2016, which has resulted in many success stories. On the other hand, Israel has been a longstanding partner of the EU Framework Programmes for research and innovation since 1996. In Horizon Europe, Israel ranked third in terms of participation in the programme.

Read more here and here
 
 
EU carbon price to hit €100 by year end after record run – analysts say
 
According to analysts, Europe’s benchmark carbon price is on track to hit €100 a tonne by the end of the year, making a near 50% rise since the start of November. Trader and analysts are saying the rise is possible due to several bullish factors such as higher gas prices, making coal power plants more profitable than gas, and an options expiry. Rising tensions between Russia and the West over a build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border was also a factor.
 
Read more here
 
 
Environmental NGOs dissatisfied with leaked EU gas package’s draft
 
The EU gas package, aimed at reforming the gas market and more in general the use of fossil fuels in the EU, will only be unveiled on 14 December, but leaked information has already sparked reactions. A group of environmental organisations has signed a letter addressing the EU Commission to ask for an improvement of the package. Among the points mentioned, the signatories have underlined the importance of a fossil gas phase out by 2035, a clear signal against market uptake of low carbon gases and a prioritisation of specific end uses for green hydrogen. The parties also express their disagreement with a blending of gas and hydrogen into the same grid, calling in addition for clear definitions of low carbon gases.
 
Read more here
 
 
Report on biofuels suggests that current EU modelling might be outdated
 
A new study commissioned by the ethanol industry, and performed by modelling form E3, suggests that crop-based bioethanol should be considered a “cost-effective” measure to reduce road transport CO2 emissions by 2030. This result comes at a crucial time, with the EU Taxonomy on green investments set to be released by the end of the year. A part of the biofuels sector risks being left out as the EU Commission has pronounced itself against some crop-based biofuels. However, the authors of the report mention that the modelling data used by the Commission are outdated, as they are based on old estimates and production methods assessment.
 
Read more here
Member States News
Germany’s new government is poised to increase sustainability efforts, but internal clash might prove an obstacle. With a new coalition in place, the large role of the Greens will have an effect on climate and energy policies in Germany. However, the three parties in the coalition have different views on those and a mediation will be needed.
 
 
Germany minister of economy and climate, Robert Habeck, will push to speed up the expansion of offshore wind capacity. Germany aims for 75 GW of offshore wind energy capacity in 2045 and 80% renewable energy by 2030 (according to the coalition agreement). Yet, in the framework of the North Sea Declaration, Germany’s dedicated space would only allow for 54 GW. Read more here
 
 
Italy is lagging behind in decarbonising its electricity sector. Compared to other major EU Member States, Italy is falling behind in decarbonising its electricity sector by 2035 and aligning with the 1.5°C target. Instead of boosting its power generation capacity from renewable, Rome is planning of replacing its retired coal plants with fossil gas, to the detriment of its energy security and energy price stability. Read more here
International Energy News
Nord Stream 2: a source of leverage on Russia in the Ukraine crisis
 
The newly appointed German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, declared at a news conference in Warsaw last week that “as things presently stand, [the Nord Stream 2] cannot be approved, because it does not fulfil requirements of European energy legislation and questions of security are still open”. Not only the pipeline has not yet reached compliance with European regulatory rules, but the decision on its launch will depend on how the current Ukraine crisis will unfold in the upcoming days. It is known that the US has already reached an agreement with Germany about shutting down the project if Russia invades Ukraine – even though it is unclear whether the two parties have agreed on a definition of invasion. This makes the Nord Stream 2 a “source of leverage on Russia”, as the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stated.
 
Read more here, here and here
 
 
Current trends in fossil fuel investments
 
According to the UN Environment Programme’s 2021 Production Gap report, governments are planning to produce by 2030 more than double the amount of fossil fuel that would be consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5°C. Nonetheless, financing organisations are starting to respond to growing political and social pressure with more determination to end their financial support for fossil fuel projects. Moreover, recent research from Nature has warned about the increasing financial risks related with fossil fuel investments, due to the net-zero transition’s expected pace increase in the next years. Most oil and gas companies are issuing plans to gradually reduce their fossil production and turn into “integrated energy companies” generating energy from renewables. While this can help their emissions profile, it may also induce other upstream operators to start extracting in their place. This may lead to unintended consequences, where assets fall into the hands of operators under less scrutiny, such as national oil companies, which typically do not have net-zero pledges and are based in countries whose economy is highly reliant on fossil fuel extraction.
 
Read more here
EU Institutional Agenda
Council of the EU
Working Party on International Environment Issues,
14 December
Agenda available here
  • Desertification
Coreper I,
15 December
Agenda available here
  • Data Governance Act
  • Revision of the TEN-E Regulation
Environment Council,
20 December
Agenda available here
  • Waste Batteries
  • Fit for 55
  • EU Soil Strategy
European Parliament
ENVI Committee,
16 December
Agenda available here
  • European Green Bonds
EERA Events 
#Fit for 55

Energy Sufficiency and Efficiency in the Fit for 55 Context: Challenges & Opportunities for Clean Energy Research

Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

As part of the SUPEERA project, the webinar will gather policymakers, industry representatives, civil society and research to explore how sufficiency and efficiency solutions can be applied across all emission sources and contribute to the attainment of climate neutrality goals. The outcome will inform the EERA community with tailored recommendations on concrete research and industrial challenges in the specific realm of energy efficiency and sufficiency. 

#Renewable Energy

EERA EU Energy Policy Review: impact on Renewable Energy

Location: Online
Information & registration: click here

EERA JP Wind organizes this workshop as a cross-cutting workshop and aims to focus on the impact of policy on renewable energy developments in the broad context, which means including the energy system aspects, society and ecology. 

#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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