The European electricity industry has publicly reiterated its “unwavering commitment” to accelerating investment in clean energy in order to deliver a “carbon-neutral electricity mix in the EU well before mid-century”.
Trade body EURELECTRIC, which represents 3,500 companies across Europe with an aggregate turnover of €200bn, today published a new long term vision which formally confirms its commitment to delivering rapid decarbonisation of the continent’s power sector and the wider use of electricity as part of a low carbon society.
The group said the new declaration was developed through comprehensive consultation process with industry CEOs and representatives from across Europe. The final declaration secured unanimous support from the group’s members. “It demonstrates the unwavering commitment from the power sector to play a key role in the transition to a sustainable, smart and energy efficient society,” EURELECTRIC said.
“Our industry sees a great opportunity on the path towards a progressively decarbonised and fully sustainable European energy future,” said Francesco Starace, EURELECTRIC President and CEO of the Italian energy group Enel, in a statement. “Electricity is playing a growing role in making this vision happen and EURELECTRIC will lead this transformation. Today’s announcement shows how together we are determined to accelerate the energy transition through a progressive electrification of Europe’s energy consumption while making the European power sector carbon-neutral well before mid-century.”
The new vision argues electricity has a key role to play in the low carbon transition and sets out a series of commitments from EURELECTRIC’s members to investment in clean power capacity and supporting technologies such as smarter grids, enable emissions reductions in other sectors such as heat and transport, and continue to support the development of innovative new green technologies.
It also calls on policymakers to support the emergence of smart grids, enable cost-effective decarbonisation through a meaningful carbon price, deliver an integrated European energy market, and ensure a “fair transition” by managing geographical and social impacts that result from the transition.
Magnus Hall, CEO of Vattenfall and vice-president of EURELECTRIC, said there were clear commercial and environmental reasons for utilities to support the low carbon transition. “Electrification of heating, transport and industry is a win-win,” he said. “It comes with higher efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. We should do everything possible to advance electrification with smart regulation.”
Alistair Philips-Davies, CEO of SSE and Vice-President of EURELECTRIC, said the sector was committed to mobilising a major new wave of clean infrastructure investment. “The investment required in clean electricity and transition-enabling technologies is huge,” he said. “This statement reflects our full commitment to invest in innovation, to build new cross-sector business models, and ensure that electricity keeps creating value in decades to come.”
The new vision echoes the shift undertaken last year by Energy UK, which saw the trade body back deep cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of unabated coal power in the UK.
The move will provide green businesses and campaigners with a powerful new ally, especially in Brussels, where the EU is currently working to finalise its energy and climate package for the period from 2020 to 2030.