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Procedure : 2017/2084(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0005/2018

Texts tabled :

A8-0005/2018

Debates :

PV 05/02/2018 - 23
CRE 05/02/2018 - 23

Votes :

PV 06/02/2018 - 5.7
CRE 06/02/2018 - 5.7
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0026

Texts adopted
PDF 291kWORD 60k
Tuesday, 6 February 2018 - Strasbourg Final edition
Accelerating clean energy innovation
P8_TA(2018)0026A8-0005/2018

European Parliament resolution of 6 February 2018 on accelerating clean energy innovation (2017/2084(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 30 November 2016 entitled ‘Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation’ (COM(2016)0763),

–  having regard to the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ratified by the European Union on 4 October 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 September 2015 entitled ‘Towards an Integrated Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: Accelerating the European Energy System Transformation’ (C(2015)6317),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 February 2015 entitled ‘A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’ (COM(2015)0080), and to its resolution of 15 December 2015 entitled ‘Towards a European Energy Union’(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 December 2011 entitled ‘Energy Roadmap 2050’ (COM(2011)0885), and to its resolution of 14 March 2013 on the Energy Roadmap 2050, a future with energy(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 30 November 2016 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Governance of the Energy Union (COM(2016)0759), and in particular the ‘research, innovation and competitiveness’ dimension of the Energy Union therein, most notably Article 22 on ‘Integrated reporting on research, innovation and competitiveness’,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 18 July 2017 entitled ‘Strengthening Innovation in Europe’s Regions: Strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth’ (COM(2017)0376),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2016 entitled ‘Europe’s next leaders: the Start-up and Scale-up Initiative’ (COM(2016)0733),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0005/2018),

A.  whereas research, development and innovation constitute a distinct dimension of the EU’s Energy Union, with energy R&D&I being key drivers of the Union’s industrial leadership, its global competitiveness, its sustainable growth, job creation, as well as the overall energy security of Member States and the Union, by reducing dependence on energy imports and fostering an efficient and sustainable use of all energy sources;

B.  whereas the EU remains a global leader in high-value, low-emission energy innovation, including in energy efficiency, renewables and in emerging clean technologies, giving the EU a solid basis to make a further leap in clean energy research and innovation, including in development of batteries for e-mobility and energy storage; whereas ambitious, targeted climate and energy policies, particularly through the 2030 climate and energy framework, as well as the energy roadmap 2050, have been key drivers of this leadership; whereas, in this context, the Paris Agreement substantially increased the level of global ambition and of signatories’ concrete commitments on climate change mitigation; whereas the EU must further remain ambitious in its policies and instruments in order to send the right investment signals and not lose its global leading market position in clean energy research and innovation;

C.  whereas progress in energy efficiency and renewable energy‑based innovations and R&D are key to the EU’s future competitiveness, including Europe’s industry; whereas the EU will become ‘the world number one in renewables’ only through the deployment of cost-effective innovations and intensified R&D efforts in this specific sector; whereas implementation of the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle needs to be underpinned by a robust innovation policy at European level, notably related to system integration;

D.  whereas a fully functioning and competitive internal energy market, with an appropriate regulatory framework and infrastructure, is essential for further stimulating R&D&I and maximising the market uptake of new clean technologies across all EU regions by providing economies of scale and regulatory and investment certainty, thereby enabling the Union to reap the full potential of technology-neutral energy innovation that fosters efficiency, a low-emission and sustainable use of energy sources and decentralised generation, storage and transport solutions and technologies;

E.  whereas innovation in clean energy should also contribute to providing an affordable energy supply to European consumers by helping them enjoy lower energy tariffs and more control over their energy consumption and production and offering them products and services that consume less energy;

F.  whereas the energy policy and financing instruments of the EU and its Member States, including relevant public investments, should be designed to take full advantage of accelerating technical developments, and should primarily focus on a gradual transition to clean, highly efficient, low-emission energy systems; whereas, due to market, technological or scientific uncertainty, funding from the private sector is often either insufficient or unavailable; whereas the EU needs to send strong and consistent signals and create incentives, in order to provide investor certainty and boost private investment in clean energy innovation, R&D and deployment;

G.  whereas innovation is driven first and foremost by innovators and market demand; whereas the Commission should focus its efforts primarily on creating an enabling framework for innovators, ranging from simplifying access to research financing to turning knowledge into commercially viable products; whereas partnerships between researchers and relevant industrial partners can be helpful in this context;

H.  whereas energy subsidies affect market prices, masking the true costs of energy from different sources and the true cost of energy-related technologies, thus negatively impacting the conditions for research and investment in clean energy innovation, as well as its eventual deployment; whereas, while the use of subsidies should be progressively phased out this use should, in the meantime, be limited to temporary instruments aimed at creating a level playing field and a competitive market facilitating the uptake of new clean technologies, especially in the areas of energy efficiency and renewables;

I.  whereas the life-cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas emissions from energy sources, distribution networks and technologies should be taken as a reference when addressing concrete policies and incentives at EU level aimed at fostering clean, low-emission, energy-efficient solutions and technologies, including the sustainable sourcing of raw materials and minerals; whereas focus should be put on those clean energy innovations that have direct relevance to citizens and prosumers, allowing their participation in the energy transition and making the transition itself more affordable;

J.  whereas energy-related research and innovation was recognised as a priority area under FP7 and Horizon 2020, and should continue to be one under FP9, given the Union’s commitments within the Energy Union and under the Paris Agreement, so as to leverage public and private R&D funding more effectively, and to help lower the investment risks of most prospective innovation in clean energy, particularly in energy efficiency and renewables;

K.  whereas the transport sector represents one third of the EU’s energy consumption, holds enormous potential for energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction, and should therefore play a vital role in the transition towards new energy solutions and to a low-carbon society;

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication setting the framework for accelerating the EU’s clean energy innovation; stresses the need for a regulatory and financing framework for energy innovation that is coherent with the EU’s energy roadmap 2050 and its commitments under the Paris Agreement, and that fosters the efficient and sustainable use of all energy sources, thus resulting in energy savings and wider benefits, including in the areas of health, safety, and air and water quality, while at the same time ensuring the Union’s industrial competitiveness, its security of energy supply and compliance with the EU treaty obligations, as well as a comprehensive response to environmental concerns; recognises that the framework for accelerating the EU’s clean energy innovation is an integral part of a wider set of legislative proposals set out in the ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package and should therefore reinforce its various elements, the Union’s commitments made under the Paris Agreement and the wider Energy Union legislation and principles, particularly those reflected in the 2030 climate and energy framework and the 2050 roadmap, while respecting the provisions of Articles 191 and 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU);

2.  Recognises that the successful deployment of energy innovation is a multidimensional challenge that encompasses both supply- and demand-side value chains, human capital, market dynamics, regulation, innovation and industrial policy issues; stresses that this challenge requires the engagement of citizens – both consumers and prosumers – as well as a wide ecosystem of stakeholders, including academia, research and technology organisations (RTOs), SMEs, start-ups, energy and construction companies, mobility providers, service suppliers, equipment manufacturers, IT and telecoms companies, financial institutions, Union, national, regional and local authorities, renewable energy communities, NGOs, educators and opinion leaders; highlights the value of new business models that use innovative digital technologies to, inter alia, optimise self-generation, storage, exchange and self-consumption of on-site clean energy and increase access to renewables, including for households in energy poverty;

3.  Considers that a cost-effective energy transition towards environmentally friendly, consumer-oriented and more digitalised and decentralised systems with active prosumers and prosumer communities requires research and the deployment of innovation across all energy system sectors, including non-technology-specific and systemic solutions, inter alia ones aimed at efficiency and decentralised energy generation; recognises that this transition is fostering new organisational models, particularly in energy generation, transmission, distribution and storage, electro-mobility, business and needs management, and service provision; recognises the need for common standards in order to foster a connected and digitalised energy system; underlines the role that sustainable large-scale pilot projects, including community-based ones, can play in deploying systemic energy innovation;

4.  Recalls that energy efficiency should be a cross-cutting horizontal priority in the research and innovation policy of the EU that applies to all sectors and is not limited to energy-related projects and that systematically promotes and incentivises the production of more energy-efficient processes, services and goods, while implementing the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle throughout the full energy chain, including energy generation, transmission, distribution and end-use;

5.  Recognises the importance of further liberalising European energy markets, notably by removing obstacles to free price formation and phasing out energy subsidies, in order to facilitate further innovation and the deployment of new technologies which lead to more sustainable energy use and which foster an emerging supply of renewable energy, and to create a level playing field and a competitive market capable of delivering a better deal for energy consumers, prosumers, communities and businesses;

Coherence of EU actions

6.  Notes that clean energy R&D&I crucially depends on a stable market and on the predictability and certainty of a regulatory framework, which require an ambitious and deliverable long-term policy vision, including energy- and climate-related goals and commitments, sustained targeted incentives and patient equity capital in order to create a level playing field among technologies, thus facilitating innovation, easing energy supply, lowering market entry barriers and making it easier for clean energy innovation to attain the critical mass necessary for market deployment; welcomes and encourages the focus on key technologies, as confirmed in the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) and the Commission communication; reiterates the provisions of Article 194 TFEU and notes that they must be reflected in policy and financial instruments supporting clean energy innovation; stresses the need, however, for greater prioritisation of cross-cutting, cross-sectoral, systemic innovation in energy, as well as the promotion of education and entrepreneurship, since innovation is not only technology-driven; underlines the need for this systemic approach to be able to effectively integrate different solutions available or under development, particularly with regard to energy efficiency and the integration of renewables; calls for European technology and innovation platforms to be used to help identify prospective clean energy innovation meriting targeted support;

7.  Urges the Commission and the Member States, and, where relevant, regional authorities, to put in place mechanisms for coordinating EU, national and regional research and energy innovation programmes in order to foster synergies and avoid duplication, thus ensuring the most effective use of existing resources and infrastructure, as well as of energy sources available in the Member States, in order to maximise the market uptake of new technologies and innovation and to promote new business models across the EU; believes that including relevant information in integrated national energy and climate plans could be conducive to that aim; stresses in this context the importance of promoting best practices and information exchange, as well as streamlining the rules on participation in energy innovation programmes for all organisations, enterprises, universities and institutes, both from the EU and from third countries;

8.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to continue to fund fundamental research through Horizon 2020 and the European Research Council; stresses the need to further enhance the funding of collaborative research under Horizon Societal Challenges in the field of energy, but also streamlining energy innovation in the other societal challenges; notes the Commission’s proposal to strengthen market-creating innovations by setting up a European Innovation Council in addition to the Start‑up and Scale‑up Initiative, thereby contributing to the fostering of breakthrough innovations that can capture and create new markets; believes that the creation of market-based financing instruments (such as loans and equity) should not be to the detriment of grants funding that enables non-profit and public actors, such as academia, universities and civil society, to participate in transnational European projects of high value;

9.  Remains concerned about the large number and complexity of existing financial instruments and stresses the need for greater coherence between the relevant funds, including structural funds, dedicated to clean energy projects, and for the existing financing instruments at EU and Member State level to be made more comprehensible; calls on the Commission to map the different funding and financing instruments along the value chain and considers that the possibility of pooling the various instruments should be assessed, while taking care not to undermine their complementarity; further considers that some Member States lack the capacity to develop support actions for energy-related innovation, in particular through national financial support schemes, and, in this respect, calls on the Commission to further reinforce these capacities while ensuring a coherent and simplified EU financing framework in clean energy innovation;

10.  Calls on the Commission to carry out an evaluation of the performance of its energy-related financial instruments and funds, and to provide a ‘fast track’ response to improve the instruments if specific instances of gridlock, incoherence or a need for amelioration are identified and to adapt the aforementioned instruments and funds to the new EU energy targets;

11.  Calls on the Commission to propose, as part of the Union’s industrial policy, a focused, long-term and technology-neutral energy dimension, based on high energy efficiency, further market liberalisation and greater transparency to help avoid investments in stranded assets; stresses that this dimension should be an integral part of the Union’s industrial policy strategy and action plan; stresses the role of innovative processes and technologies in improving emission performance by energy-intensive industries; calls on the Commission to put energy and resource efficiency at the forefront of research and innovation, and encourages the Member States to make accountable investments from ETS auctioning revenues into energy efficiency and sustainable, low-emission technologies; highlights the creation of an Innovation Fund to support innovation in low-carbon technologies and processes during ETS Phase IV; considers vital the promotion of a system of open innovation where industry and companies pool their various expertise and jointly develop high-quality sustainable solutions; recognises the role of the Clean Energy Industrial Competitiveness Forum in the deployment of key energy innovation, including in the photovoltaic and wind sectors, but also possibly for, inter alia, storage solutions, carbon capture and storage and energy-producing bio-processes; welcomes the Commission’s commitment and support to industry-led initiatives to promote the EU’s global leadership in clean energy and low-emission technology solutions;

12.  Recalls that the photovoltaic industry must be at the heart of European industrial policy to meet the demands of a growing global market in a context where the bulk of photovoltaic cells and modules are nowadays manufactured outside the European Union, mostly in China; stresses the need for the EU to be fully integrated into the new investment cycle in order to maintain its leadership in R&D on photovoltaic manufacturing machinery, as well as on some other segments such as inverters, raw materials, building‑integrated photovoltaics, operations and maintenance and on the balance of systems; further emphasises the need to maintain its expertise in system integration such as small-scale photovoltaic solutions for developing countries;

13.  Urges the Commission and the Member States, when addressing the energy sector and other related sectors, to step up their efforts in support of innovation in sustainable sourcing of raw materials, better product design, recycling, reuse and cascade use of existing metals and materials in the context of the circular economy and energy savings;

14.  Recognises links between digitalisation, IT technologies and energy research and innovation, in particular as regards improved data collection, interoperability, associated data security and privacy guarantees; considers that distributed ledger technologies, such as the blockchain system, can play a role in improving the efficiency of energy-related processes and in fostering citizens’ engagement in the energy system transformation, including through peer-to-peer energy trading; calls on the Commission, to this end, to encourage this initiative, to improve its regulatory framework, and to ensure coherence between related aspects of the Energy Union, the digital single market, cybersecurity strategies and the European Data Protection Framework, so as to reinforce the Union’s capacity to be at the forefront of this new trend;

15.  Calls on the Commission to set up a dedicated inter-service team that would, inter alia:

   (a) enable new common research and innovation policy planning, in order to ensure consistency, coherence and avoid frequent changes of priorities;
   (b) identify the relevant stakeholders in the EU’s wider energy innovation ecosystems, at all levels and across all sectors, including offshore wind and other renewable energy technologies;
   (c) identify existing stakeholder forums on energy research and innovation, especially on energy efficiency and renewables; promote the formation of clusters, integration into international value-creation networks, investment and innovation; provide tools for inter-sectoral, inter-disciplinary and inter-regional exchanges, including on energy innovation projects, national and local long-term energy innovation policies, joint investment opportunities, the appropriation of the energy transition by citizens and grass-roots initiatives;
   (d) incentivise public authorities at all levels to develop capital raising plans and provide incentives to clean energy innovation in order to foster investor trust and trigger the mobilisation of private capital;
   (e) establish a compendium of best practices, policy and financing instruments in energy, including PPPs, public procurement and tax incentives, exchange and information mechanisms, communication tools and campaigns, as well as operational guidelines and technical assistance on mobilising clean energy innovation, deployment and prosumer involvement, so as to ensure that the EU can adequately support all stages of the innovation cycle and ultimately provide a practical toolkit for the Member States, local authorities and stakeholders;
   (f) examine ways of drawing up innovation-friendly, streamlined and flexible rules for participation in FP9 and ESI Funds regulations focusing on achieving a greater long-term impact, with the aim of better aligning them, of avoiding any waste of applicants’ resources and of promoting innovation excellence right across Europe;
   (g) establish a mechanism with the aim of supporting a transnational energy start-up ecosystem, including a European incubator system in order to ensure that the introduction of energy innovation and business models on the market overcomes the ‘valley of death’ in the innovation cycle;
   (h) increase synergies with Horizon 2020 and other funding initiatives to strengthen research and innovation capacity building for low‑performing regions in the EU;
   (i) advise the European institutions on coherent procurement practices, fostering a more extensive deployment of energy innovation; help define concrete targets in the public procurement of innovative solutions at European level;
   (j) draw up concrete proposals with a view to establishing an effective one-stop-shop advisory structure for innovators on financing energy innovation via funds and instruments available at EU, Member State and European Investment Bank level, as well as from other potential private sources; enhance technical assistance by aggregating information on private and public funding possibilities and guide applicants to the most appropriate funding mechanism, notably in the field of energy efficiency where the aggregation of small projects into broader portfolios is indispensable;
   (k) identify ways of introducing into EU public procurement legislation incentives to promote innovative energy solutions in the public sector;

16.  Stresses that public procurement can be an innovation driver as well as fostering more sustainable growth, as also recognised by the Sustainable Development Goals; points out that the choice of sustainable products, services and public works is essential and can create lead or new markets for innovative products; welcomes the Commission’s initiative under the Start-up and Scale-up Initiative to introduce measures on EU procurement to, among other things, encourage Member States to set ambitious innovation buying targets; further stresses the role that local and regional authorities can play in setting a good example, as well as engaging in the exchange of good practices in forums such as the Covenant of Mayors;

17.  Urges the Commission to strengthen the innovation capacity component of competitiveness proofing in impact assessments and apply the Research & Innovation Tool to all new energy policy proposals and the review of existing legislation, without undermining the effectiveness of legislation;

18.  Requests the Commission to ensure that its work on innovation on the one hand, and standards and interoperability on the other, is fully joined up so that the EU achieves global leadership in setting standards in clean energy ‘Internet of Things’‑integrated sectors; welcomes, as an example in this context, the development of the new European standard for smart appliances (Saref) that will potentially create a new EU-based reference language for energy-related data allowing home devices to exchange information with any energy management system;

19.  Recalls that energy innovation policies have to be in line with the EU commitment to conserve and enhance CO2 sinks while preserving biodiversity, especially in forests, on land and in seas;

20.  Encourages the relevant Member States to contribute adequately to meeting the EU’s 3 % GDP target for R&D; notes that an overall increase to 3 % would additionally bring in more than EUR 100 billion per year for research and innovation in Europe; recalls that two‑thirds of R&D funding is expected to come from the private sector;

Long-term financing certainty

21.  Reiterates its call for an increased overall budget of at least EUR 120 billion for FP9 and urges the Commission to increase the proportion of related financing for sustainable, low-emission energy projects under FP9 by at least 50 % over and above the corresponding Horizon 2020 amounts, so as to ensure sufficient funding to support EU’s energy transition and the effective implementation of the Energy Union; calls, in particular, for the financial resources under FP9 to be strengthened in order to stimulate breakthroughs and market-creating innovation, especially by SMEs and start-ups; stresses the importance of strong excellence criteria for turning the EU into a global centre for innovation, research and leading technologies, including ‘blue skies’ research; points to the results of the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 showing that, as of 1 January 2017, the programme was below target with regard to climate and sustainability spending; welcomes the increase in Horizon 2020 funding for Energy Societal Challenge under the 2018 budget, yet remains deeply worried about cuts to energy projects under the Connecting Europe Facility, which it deems incompatible with the aims of the Energy Union;

22.  Reiterates the need to improve the quality of investments financed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and to focus in particular on incentives for better geographical allocation, taking into account the current imbalance in the geographical coverage of EFSI and the specific needs of less developed and transitional regions; recognises the need for cooperation with national promotional investment banks, investment platforms and eligible financial intermediaries through a possible delegation of the use of the EU guarantee to them; calls for a substantial reinforcement of the role and the capacity of the European Investment Advisory Hub, notably through a local presence and a proactive role in the preparation of projects;

23.  Believes that FP9 should support initiatives such as ‘100 % renewable cities’, involving cities and local administrations which aim to substantially increase renewable energy capacity for electricity, mobility, heating and cooling in cities through innovation projects, which could potentially include smart grids, energy system management, activities to enable sector coupling and encourage the use of electric vehicles, etc.;

24.  Recognises the role of the SET-Plan, the Knowledge Innovation Community (KIC) InnoEnergy and the relevant Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) in driving energy innovation; stresses the need to better connect these various frameworks together with, inter alia, the InnovFin initiative, the EFSI and the proposed Pan-European Venture Capital Fund(s)-of-Funds programme (VC FoF) as part of a coordinated, focused investment strategy in clean energy innovation that would help early-stage projects, start-ups and SMEs effectively overcome the ‘valley of death’ and reach the market maturity levels needed for global expansion; considers that effective incentives for investment in energy innovation, by means of national investment funds and pension funds, could play a crucial role in mobilising the necessary equity capital;

25.   Recalls that first of a kind (FOAK) projects are highly risky and the supply of equity and debt is at much lower levels than is the case for the financing of proven low‑carbon technologies; calls on the Commission, to this end, to remove the remaining regulatory obstacles and propose the establishment of a SET-FOAK Equity Fund;

26.  Acknowledges the role that the European Innovation Council (EIC) could play in helping early stage companies to find funding and proposes that it play the role of coordinating the various strands of a coherent investment strategy in clean energy innovation; requests more information about the EIC’s structure and consistency with existing instruments supporting innovation;

27.  Considers that citizen-driven energy innovation requires lower barriers for market entry and opens untapped opportunities for innovation financing; calls on the Commission to explore effective ways to promote energy innovation through, inter alia, crowd-funding and to consider the possibility of setting up an energy innovation crowd equity fund; considers that new and diverse ways of financing should be additional and complementary to the existing ones;

28.  Emphasises the importance of advancing smart grid technology, as well as the promotion and integration of bottom-up decentralised generation, including through clusters and cooperative schemes; calls on the Commission to support these areas of clean energy innovation with financial mechanisms, including those that mitigate risk for private investments and reduce burdens on public investments in the modernisation of energy systems; welcomes, moreover, the Commission’s intention to increase its use of inducement prizes as a valuable tool for fostering bottom-up, breakthrough innovations;

29.  Stresses that, in order to encourage a bottom-up approach to innovation, the uptake of small scale applications (e.g. NegaWatt, on-site generation, local storage, among other things) should be promoted, and their clustering and aggregation fostered to attract more investments and increase affordability, with particular attention to low-income households or multi-occupancy buildings;

The EU’s global leadership

30.  Recalls the aims of the Paris Agreement in fostering global efforts for accelerated clean energy innovation; underlines the need to continue funding research and data collection on climate change; calls on the Commission, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to explore different modalities with which to assist developing countries and emerging economies in their energy transition, through, inter alia, capacity-building measures, help in reducing the capital costs of renewables and energy-efficiency projects, fostering possible technology transfer, and providing solutions for the development of smart cities, as well as remote and rural communities, thus strengthening energy innovation ecosystems in developing countries and helping them deliver on their commitments under the Paris Agreement; welcomes, in this respect, the newly established European Fund for Sustainable Development;

31.  Calls on the Commission to exploit the full potential of the Mission Innovation initiative, so that its members can honour and deliver on their commitment to double annual spending on clean energy R&D between 2015 and 2020; stresses the importance of seeking synergies with other global initiatives, such as, inter alia, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, and with global equity and investment funds; welcomes, in this respect, the Union’s leadership in the Converting Sunlight Innovation Challenge and the Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings Innovation Challenge; calls, in this context, for exploring the possibility of coordinated division of labour in energy innovation on a global scale;

32.  Calls on the Commission to develop a comprehensive export strategy for sustainable, clean energy technologies and systemic solutions, including a dedicated support facility and focused assistance from EU delegations in third countries; underlines in this context the role that Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA) can play in the implementation of such a strategy;

33.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to conduct a thorough examination of patent registration procedures and requests the removal of unnecessary administrative burdens, which slow down the process of the market penetration of innovative products and affect the EU’s role as a leader in the clean energy transition;

Citizen-driven energy innovation

34.  Believes that accelerating clean energy innovation requires Europeans to undergo a change in their mindset that would transcend simple awareness of energy issues and move towards a deeper understanding of the behavioural changes, especially in energy savings and new production and consumption patterns, needed to meet the pressing challenges of sustainable growth and reap the advantages of the digital revolution and innovation in all fields, so as to ultimately succeed in the energy transition; notes that innovation can enable citizens to play a more active role in energy generation, including by feeding self-generated energy into the grid, and in contributing to a more efficient use of energy by reducing consumption at household level, thus decreasing both emissions and bills;

35.  Stresses the necessity of strengthening Europe’s knowledge base and reducing fragmentation by promoting excellence in science and education, with a view to creating research centres at the international forefront of academic excellence; emphasises the need to develop a strategy which will ensure that Europe attracts foreign talent while simultaneously maintaining contacts with top European talent abroad; recognises that a qualified workforce gives Europe a great advantage and is a major motor for developing investments in R&D&I;

36.  Recognises the importance of fully democratic involvement of European citizens and communities as an essential part of a successful energy transition; stresses in parallel that the effective implementation of this transformation requires openness, transparency and a level playing field and must be founded on fair competition;

37.  Believes in the potential of innovation in clean energies and energy efficiency to create new and better jobs; considers that, in order to manage a successful transition to a sustainable decarbonised economy, there is a need to ensure that labour markets can respond adequately to the new demands of innovative clean energy systems;

38.  Calls on the Commission to pay more attention in its R&D initiatives to the link between innovation in energy systems and new professional profiles, education needs, jobs and training requirements;

39.  Recognises the need for systemic education and engagement schemes designed to enable society to fully engage in the transformation of the energy system and to enable Europeans of all ages to gradually progress from awareness and understanding towards active involvement and empowerment; calls on the Commission, the Member States, regional and local authorities and the private sector to promote informed consumer choices and the engagement of citizens in energy-related matters through, inter alia, awareness campaigns, comprehensive and accessible information on energy bills and price comparison tools, the promotion of self-generation, demand-response and cooperative sharing schemes, participatory budgets and crowd-funding for energy-related investments, and tax and investment incentives, as well as by steering technological solutions and innovations; calls on the Commission, the Member States and relevant authorities to identify best practices in addressing households in energy poverty;

40.  Believes that regions and cities have a crucial role to play in enhancing sustainable energy models; recognises the vital role of regions, cities and towns in promoting ownership of the energy transition and in pushing climate and energy-related innovation from the bottom; notes that regions and urban areas are most suitable for testing and implementing integrated solutions with the direct involvement of citizens; stresses, in this respect, the role of the Covenant of Mayors, with its aspiration to foster the global exchange of best practices and the possible pooling of resources and investments; notes that rural areas also provide space for innovation that can overcome challenges such as remoteness or demographic change, as well as the provision of new services;

41.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to assist regional and local authorities in taking coordinated steps to incentivise energy innovation at local and trans-regional level with the aim of developing coherent strategies; underlines that energy transition will have a drastic impact on employment in some regions of the European Union and, in that context, stresses that there should be a particular focus on regions facing the challenges of phasing out lignite, coal and other solid fossil fuel‑based energy generation and on the mining industries in response to a decision by a Member State, the local authorities or the industry, or in response to other circumstances; underlines the need to support these regions in the development of inclusive, local and just transition strategies and in addressing societal, socio-economic and environmental impacts along with the reconversion of sites; highlights the financial options for providing such support through the partial use of ETS auction revenues, as well as through the Modernisation Fund to be set up for the period 2021-2030; considers that inclusive stakeholder processes should develop how best to attract alternative innovative businesses, start-ups, and industries with the aim of building a sustainable regional economy, boosting people’s dignity and helping to replace electricity generation capacity with renewables or energy efficiency solutions; calls for research and innovation policies to focus on how to revitalise the regions concerned in terms of sustainable employment and growth perspectives, in particular where the retirement of energy generating capacity from lignite, coal or other solid fossil fuels is linked to mining activities;

42.  Calls on the Commission to assist in empowering local and regional authorities in the deployment of clean energy innovation, such as smart cities, e-mobility and smart and micro-grids, as well as in the market penetration of renewables, depending on their level of maturity, and to help these authorities meet the challenges faced in advancing the energy transition, such as citizens’ engagement; encourages the exchange of best practices, the pooling of investments and better assessment of the bankability of projects, and the development of financing strategies such as business cases and the use of public procurement and loans;

43.  Believes that the transport sector holds enormous potential and should play a vital role in the transition and encourages the Commission to support existing funding for electric vehicles infrastructure deployment; calls on the Commission to continue to support and develop further initiatives such as the Europe-wide electromobility initiative and the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking;

44.  Encourages the Commission to recognise the benefits of hydrogen mobility, as well as the sectoral coupling between the transport and the electricity sectors and to create incentives for new business models in similar areas, such as smart charging and vehicle‑to‑grid triggers, which would allow the owners of electric vehicles to sell to the power system in a flexible manner; calls on the Commission to ensure the financing of innovation aimed at the development of hydrogen storage and advanced long-term storage solutions for electric vehicles, the development of a hydrogen charging infrastructure, as well as infrastructure and plug-in solutions, including charging infrastructure for electric vehicles; encourages the Member States and local authorities to take further initiatives, such as fiscal incentives in relation to the market penetration of electric and hydrogen vehicles, tax reductions and exemptions for the owners of electric and hydrogen vehicles, as well as various other initiatives in relation to the promotion of the use of electric vehicles, such as price reductions, bonus payments and premiums for the buyers of electric vehicles, and the creation of free parking spaces for electric vehicles;

45.  Notes the major efforts being made under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and development programme with a view to achieving a 60 % reduction in GHG emissions in the transport sector by 2050 compared with their 1990 level(4); recalls that EU research and innovation programmes are a key enabler of the market uptake of energy, ICT innovation and intelligent transport systems; calls on the Commission, in future, to focus the available funding more clearly on interconnected strategic priorities, such as low-emission mobility, alternative fuel charging infrastructure and integrated urban transport, with particular attention to all polluting emissions, to noise reduction, road safety, congestion and bottlenecks, and in compliance with the principle of technological neutrality; points also to the importance of developing advanced biofuels, increasing the share of rail transport and cycling;

46.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission will support the market uptake of innovative clean energy solutions through public procurement and the revision of the Clean Vehicles Directive, and recognises the potential benefit to public transport authorities and operators, bus manufacturers, industry suppliers, energy providers, national and international associations and research centres; calls on the Commission to come forward swiftly with proposals to this effect;

47.  Encourages the setting-up of a Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda, with roadmaps drawn up in consultation between the Member States and the Commission, and also local and regional authorities and operators, and a corresponding governance mechanism, to support research, innovation and the deployment of new technologies in the transport sector and to encourage low-emission mobility, all of which are much needed; calls for the conclusions of these roadmaps to be included in the Commission’s annual work programme;

48.  Calls for an integrated and coordinated approach to take account of the urban dimension of EU and national policies and legislation, and for the development of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) in order to support, enable and encourage the Member States to improve the health and quality of life of citizens and the state of the environment in urban areas; encourages the development of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) and autonomous vehicles and the deployment of communicating infrastructures to guarantee the high capacity and low latency needs for a 5G network; calls for active efforts to reduce the disparities and improve cooperation between urban and rural areas and between more developed regions and those lagging behind when it comes to infrastructural quality;

49.  Recognises the importance of the new European Consensus on Development signed in June 2017, which sets out a common vision and framework of action for the EU and its Member States in the field of development cooperation; notes that, for the first time, the 17 SDGs and associated targets to be achieved by 2030 are universally applicable to all countries, in view of the EU commitment to take the lead in implementing them; observes that the Consensus brings Union development policy into line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and identifies important measures in the area of sustainable energy and climate change;

50.  Recalls that Article 8 of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) lays down that ‘the objectives of the ESI Funds shall be pursued in line with the principle of sustainable development’, with the EU’s aim of preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment, and with its commitments under the Paris Agreement;

51.  Recalls that the Partnership Agreements and programmes under the CPR aim to promote resource efficiency, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the horizontal principles of partnership, multi-level governance, non-discrimination and gender equality;

52.  Considers that synergies between EU policies should be strengthened through a unified and consistent EU position on anti-dumping measures, in order to ensure that the manufacturing industry takes full advantage of the energy transition;

53.  Recognises the vital role of regions, cities and towns in promoting ownership of the energy transition worldwide and in pushing for climate- and energy-related bottom-up innovation; calls for the application of the same environmental quality standards for all energy technology entering the EU market; expresses its concern about the safeguarding of urban green areas;

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54.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.

(1) OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 21.
(2) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 62.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 104.
(4) As set out in the Commission’s White Paper of 28 March 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144).

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