Which role for electrification in the Green Deal?

On 17 November, EuropeOn took part in the yearly conference of the Electrification Alliance. Along with 9 peer associations, we represent the whole spectrum of the electrification value chain, from electricity producers to grid operators, from wind and solar industries to copper dealers, from electrical contractors to end-users.

Building on this integrated perspective, this public conference aimed to discuss the role of electrification in the Green Deal and, more acutely, in its legal implementation, i.e. the “Fit for 55 Package” which has been partly unveiled by the European Commission in July and will be completed with a second batch of proposals on 14 December.

This comprehensive revision of the EU’s legal arsenal is Europe’s now-or-never chance to successfully mitigate climate change and foster a sustainable energy transition. This is why the Electrification Alliance is responding to the Fit for 55 Package with its #ElectrifyNow campaign. The Alliance is now engaging with members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are in charge of finding a compromise with the Commission and the Council of Member States on the above-mentioned legal package.

Our November event started by a high-panel discussion between the CEOs of Iberdrola, EDF, Enel, the European Copper Institution and the European Climate Foundation. A general wish was expressed: Europe must encourage higher levels of investment in electrification and develop more incentives so that end-users chose electricity. As pinpointed by Francesco Starace (CEO of Enel), if Europe wants to remain an industrial giant while decarbonising our economies, then electrification is an ideal direction to follow and we cannot waste more time by advocating for “technology-neutrality”.

It was then for MEPs and Electrification Alliance representatives the perfect occasion to discuss the multiple benefits of electrification in terms of decarbonisation, air pollution, jobs and economic recovery, flexibility and digitalisation.

A first roundtable focused on energy production. MEP Nicolás González Casares, shadow rapporteur on the Renewable Energy Directive, advocated in favour of higher renewable energy targets and called for a consistent revision of all legislations falling under the Fit for 55 Package. Spokespersons of SolarPower Europe, Wind Europe and the European Climate Foundation emphasised the high-pace decarbonisation of electricity, making it the fuel of choice for the years to come, provided that permitting rules are simplified. Little did they know that a few days later the International Energy Agency would release a new milestone report showing that renewables broke more records than ever in the world in 2021 (+290 gigawatts) and that this trend is poised to last. The Agency expects renewables to account for almost 95% of the growth in global power capacity through 2026, with solar PV alone providing more than half.

A second roundtable focused on electricity distribution, with spokespersons from Eurelectric, Renewable Grids Initiative and the European Copper Institute and opened with a practical case study showing how Spain is becoming a global leader in the field of smart grids, supported by electrification.

Finally, a third roundtable was dedicated to energy uses and consumers. MEP Ismail Ertug, lead rapporteur on the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation, was first to take the floor. He explained his high ambition for e-mobility. He highlighted the necessity to ensure a good user experience in order to convince end-users to switch to decarbonised transport. Around him were the representatives of AVERE (e-mobility), smartEn (smart management of electricity), the European Heat Pump Association and EuropeOn. Julie Beaufils, Secretary General of EuropeOn, emphasised how electrical contractors are the link between all above-mentioned technologies, by integrating them upon end-users’ request. She also raised awareness on the sector’s most pressing issue: while green technologies and electrification are gaining ground year after year, electrical contractors observe a lack of candidates to match this demand. On the bright side, it means that we have many fast-evolving and skilled careers to offer in a recovering Europe. Member States must take stock of the of these opportunities before they turn into threats to the energy transition. A first step is to incentivise and promote technical education.

Have a look at our #ElectrifyNow campaign on our dedicated webpage and on Twitter

You can watch the 17 November conference at this link.