Zero emissions goal: Europe unveils the Net-Zero Industry Act

Elizabeth Smith

The Net Zero Industry Act will strengthen the resilience and competitiveness of net zero technology production in the EU, making the energy system more secure and sustainable.

Based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the need for a regulatory framework to accelerate the transition to clean energy is increasingly compelling as it becomes unstoppable to create the best conditions for the sectors that are critical to zero net emissions by 2050.

The European Green Deal

The EU is committed to achieving climate neutrality, including zero net greenhouse gas emissions, by 2050. This goal is at the heart of the European Green Deal and in line with the EU’s commitment to global climate action under the Paris Agreement.

The legislative package to realize the European Green Deal includes an action plan to enable the European economic system to meet Europe’s ambitious climate goals through the REPowerEU plan, which accelerates the shift away from fossil fuels.

Together with the Circular Economy Action Plan, this package sets the framework for the transformation of EU industry by preparing it for the “net-zero emissions” era.

Net-Zero Industry Act

The Net Zero Industry Act will strengthen the resilience and competitiveness of net-zero technology production in the EU, making the energy system more secure and sustainable.

Europe aims, through the creation of better conditions for initiating net-zero projects and attracting investment, to have the overall strategic capacity for net-zero technology production in the Union approach or reach at least 40 percent of the EU’s utilization needs by 2030.

The Net Zero Industry Act will enable accelerated progress toward the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets. As well as the transition to climate neutrality. Thus while strengthening the competitiveness of EU industry, creating quality jobs, and supporting the EU’s commitment to achieving energy independence.

The pillars of the Net-Zero Industry Act

The Net-Zero Industry Act is based on the following pillars:

  • Definition of enabling conditions: this means that the legislation will improve the conditions for investment in net-zero technologies by intervening on ‘information, reducing administrative burdens for starting projects, and simplifying permitting procedures;

  • Accelerating CO2 capture: the legislation sets an EU target of achieving an annual injection capacity of 50 million tons at strategic CO2 storage sites in the EU by 2030, with proportional contributions from EU oil and gas producers;

  • Facilitating market access: to improve the diversification of supply of net-zero technologies, public authorities should take sustainability and resilience criteria into account in public procurement or auctions;

  • Improving skills: new measures are introduced to ensure the availability of skilled labor for the production of net-zero technologies in the EU, with the support and supervision of the Net Zero Emission Europe Platform;

  • Promotion of innovation: member states will establish regulatory experimentation spaces to test innovative net zero emission technologies and stimulate innovation under flexible regulatory conditions.

What are net-zero technologies

Net-zero technologies support the energy transition by ensuring extremely low, zero, or negative greenhouse gas emissions during their operation, significantly ensuring net zero emissions by 2050. And, playing a key role in the Union’s open strategic autonomy so that citizens have access to clean, secure, and affordable energy.

The legislation provides supports for 8 strategic zero net emission technologies, namely:

  • solar photovoltaic and thermal technologies;

  • onshore wind power and offshore renewables;

  • batteries and storage media;

  • electrolyzers and fuel cells;

  • biogas/biomethane;

  • grid technologies, including smart and fast charging of electric vehicles.

Simplifying the permitting process for net-zero technologies

The unpredictability, complexity, and length of national permitting processes too often undermine the planning and investment security necessary for the effective development of net-zero technology production projects in the EU.

To increase efficiency and transparency, the Net-Zero Industry Act will require member states to establish one-stop shops to serve as single points of contact for project developers.

This will facilitate and coordinate the entire permitting process. And, enable a comprehensive decision to be made within the applicable deadlines.

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