It is no secret that the world, including Europe, is facing mayor challenges not only with climate change but also with the global Coronavirus health crisis. However, I believe it’s of utmost importance that the current Coronavirus crisis doesn’t become a cushion to lie on, because time is of the essence, especially in delivering the green transition and we need to act now.
This is why the Next Generation EU facility is so important, and why it is imperative that the recovery is set out with a demand for green solutions that can offer the push that the transition needs. The European Union’s green transition and decarbonisation are fundamental issues of equal importance, both before and after the pandemic.
No matter the scale of the Coronavirus crisis, climate problems will still be there and the need for a swift transition remains the same. I believe that a green Next Generation EU plan can help tackle both issues - by restarting the economy in a green manner. We can secure Europe’s economic future and still fight global warming and its related climate issues. We just need to make sure that the recovery funds are spent on helping European businesses and the economy generally, in creating sustainable jobs and researching for a green future, instead of investing in fossil fuels and areas dependent on it.
“We need to act now. This is why the Next Generation EU facility is so important, and why it is imperative that the recovery is set out with a demand for green solutions”
The recovery package of about €750bn is undoubtedly a tremendous investment and has the potential to secure the needed uplift of the European economy, but equally it has the potential to fight climate change and commit the Union to the Green Deal. So let’s use the recovery to electrify the Union and at the same time secure the future of decarbonised fuels.
The recovery plan is a great opportunity to speed up the EU’s electrification and help ensure that we can push strongly for the development of green solutions in the electrical grid. It is also an opportunity to find options for the green energy that goes to waste during periods when energy supply is greater than demand, such as nights when the wind is blowing strongly but no one is awake to use any of the energy created.
Therefore, I am looking forward to the European Commission’s Strategy for Offshore Renewables that will be presented later this month. I hope that this will be a strategy that provides scope for the development of offshore wind energy; an energy source that has so much potential for the Union. It will be a strategy that I hope will set the course for a proper sharing of sea areas and ensures the fi shing industry, maritime shipping routes and renewable energy production are considered.
However, as I mentioned, decarbonised electricity is not the solution for all sectors. That is why the Commission’s proposed Strategy for Energy Integration is another important step towards decarbonisation. We need to find solutions that ensure any energy produced can be stored for when there is low demand. This is important, no matter if the energy comes from wind farms in the North Sea or solar farms in Southern Europe.
We need a strong electrical grid that is border-free and allows electricity to flow freely throughout the EU to areas in need; it makes no sense for a coal power plant to be operating when there is cheap, green energy flowing from wind farms available elsewhere. Denmark and Germany have recently opened the first hybrid wind farm, which is connected to both countries and will send cheap green energy from a wind farm of the Baltic Sea to the country that needs it the most.
“We need a strong electrical grid that is border-free, and allows electricity to flow freely throughout the EU to areas in need; it makes no sense for a coal power plant to be operating, when there is cheap, green energy flowing from wind farms available elsewhere”
This is hopefully only the start of a renewable project that will set the scope for future electricity production. Denmark is also taking other important steps by looking into the concept of two energy islands that will become hubs for the production of green energy in both the North Sea and Baltic Sea.
From here the energy can flow to countries that need it via interconnections or conversion into energy carriers such as hydrogen. However, a strong electrical grid is not the complete solution and will still not be so for sectors such as heavy transportation, which is why the need for alternative green fuels such as hydrogen is so pressing.
Here again, the EU’s Sector Integration Strategy, together with the Hydrogen Strategy, will hopefully set a clear and defining pathway. We need to push for the development of green hydrogen, powered by cheap renewable electricity, and the sustainable production of biogas. Let’s make the Next Generation EU and the recovery a step towards the green Europe we need.