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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Innovation and Energy: Big Questions Facing The EU 2030 Package

The panel at ‘Putting Innovation 
At The Heart Of 2030’
Earlier this week, I attended a conference hosted by Energy Post. The event ‘Putting Innovation At The Heart Of 2030’, moderated by energy journalist Sonja van Renssen, brought together guest speakers for a timely debate on the European 2030 Climate and Energy proposals.

Does society believe innovation can be cost-effective?

“1% GDP can be saved thanks to innovation, in energy, in the UK by 2050”, said David Clarke, CEO of Energy Technologies Institute. Gadgets need to be cost-effective to survive and investor confidence is needed for bioenergy and CCS. On biomass and capital-intensive energy, he said “The challenge is the business model”. 

How can Europe synergise innovation for sustainability?

Marco Landolfi, Energy, Telecom, Transport Coordinator at the Permanent Representation of Italy to the EU, claimed that Italy’s investment in advanced biofuels and transport is one of the most ambitious. Yet, this is not happening on a European scale, he claimed.

There are signs that this disconnect is also happening on a national scale between universities and business. As a member of the audience pointed out, research often begins within academia.

So how do we scale up innovation?

Clarke stressed that innovation needs to address security, affordability and sustainability. Horizon 2020 is Europe’s new flagship strategy for funding innovation. The hope is that green start-ups can drive science, research and help tackle societal challenges. However, the panelists agreed that innovation must be broader. Dick Benschop from Shell Netherlands said that smart grids are key.

A gap exists in how energy storage and the biobased economy can play a part in EU 2030. 

Can the EU Emissions Trading Standard fund start-ups?

Dominique Ristori, Director-General for Energy at the European Commission, believes that ETS and NER300 can fund SMEs. This could encourage stronger cooperation between governments, business and researchers.

However, Tomas Wyns, Researcher at the Institute for European Studies, believes a much broader consensus is needed between NGOs and business. He put it simply enough by saying, “The window of opportunity for innovative technologies is 10 to 15 years. We need a big vision.”

Blog by Richard Delahay, Communications Assistant at Brussels-based sustainability communications and PR agency Sustainability Consult.

Sustainability Consult has expertise in renewables, the biobased economy and EU policy. Please get in touch to discuss opportunities for partnership and dissemination of Horizon 2020.

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