As part of the Green Deal, the EU has decided to review its 2030 green house gases reduction objectives. With a strong 2050 climate neutrality target, a renewed and more ambitious 2030 target is needed. As the Commission plans to propose a GHG reduction target for the EU of 50% to 55% (compared to 1990 levels), a consultation has been launched to guide the impact assessment underpinning this proposal. EuropeOn, as the European association of electrical contractors, was able to offer the energy professionals’ perspective on the social and economic impacts of such a target and on the climate and technological aspects implied.
First, we have to emphasise that electrification is the most efficient pathway to climate neutrality. A point that we are also stressing in the context of the upcoming smart sector integration strategy. Indeed, electric technologies have now matured enough to cover sectors such as heating or transport. Crucially, electric technologies are zero-emissions technologies, and should take precedence in an ambitious climate plan. Direct electrification should be preferred. With solutions such as heat-pumps and electric vehicles, electrification can be directly extended to new sectors such as heating and mobility. Additionally, renewable electricity can be generated locally and is the most suitable to a decentralised energy system. The latter leads to increased energy security, consumer empowerment, grid stability and reduced transition costs, if integrated with electrified solutions.
An integrated approach, focusing on electric technologies and maximising their efficiency, should underpin the formulation of decarbonisation policies.
Second, with the European Green Deal, the Commission has accurately presented its energy transition plan as a growth strategy. Indeed, a well-managed transition can make Europe more competitive and bring economic prosperity to its citizens, on top of a cleaner environment and air to breathe. While some sectors will inevitably decline (i.e. fossil sectors), others, such as the electrical contracting sector, are poised to grow tremendously. Our sector is already expanding as a result of the ongoing shift to clean technologies and digitalization. Electrical contracting businesses, who already employ around 1.8 million professionals across Europe, currently report many open vacancies, full order books and, critically, difficulties recruiting professionals skilled in areas such as digitalization, renewables, energy efficiency and more.
As enablers of the energy transition, electrical contractors play a crucial role in the rollout of climate mitigating technologies. Their difficulties recruiting personnel with a future-proof skillset has the potential to considerably hamper their aforementioned role and create bottlenecks in the switch to a clean economy. Just considering passenger road transport, we can estimate that about 1.000 public charging points will need to be installed every day for the next 10 years to meet 2030 targets. For solar, this rises to 3.000 PV installation per day. Such a workload relies on the availability of enough qualified personnel, which is not the case at the moment.
Policies supporting employment and training in the green economy have to be implemented immediately to ensure that the workforce of tomorrow is equipped with the adequate skills to meet the growing demand for clean energy solutions. Education reforms must take place to adapt to the fast-paced evolutions in the clean energy sector with dynamically updated training curricula and up- and re-skilling strategies. Private sector stakeholders are in the best position to provide guidance on training needs of the labour market and to ensure the best labour-market orientation of education programs, leading to highest levels if employment.
Finally, as the Covid-19 pandemic has halted European economies, recovery packages have the potential to be a tipping point for climate action. The choices made now in response to this health crisis will determine the strength and pace of future growth in the green economy, and subsequent uptake of emissions-reducing solutions. We therefore urge the EU and its Member States to fully integrate the Green Deal and the upcoming stimulus packages. Similarly, the new 2030 targets should aim and account for a green recovery, thus channeling capital streams towards sustainable activities.
To read EuropeOn’s contribution to the Commission’s consultation: HERE