One of the five dimensions of the EC’s Energy Union strategy is dedicated to research, innovation and competitiveness. The most important programmes related to research and relevant to the heat-pump sector at EU level are the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) and Horizon 2020. The former promotes research and innovation efforts across Europe by supporting the most impactful technologies in the EU’s transition to a low-carbon energy system. Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme (nearly € 80 billions of funding available for the period 2014-2020) and its new Work Programme (2018-2020) aims to take forward the targets of the COP21 Paris Agreement and the Commission’s ambitions on energy and climate policies.
Research programmes have high importance for the R&I of the heat-pump sector, as they encourage commitments of private stakeholders and research organisations in delivering better technologies, provide recommendations for R&I funding priorities and policy measures and give the opportunity to the industry to deploy and adapts its technologies to different applications in different countries and climatic areas.
There are several funding opportunities available for the energy sector. After the success of the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), launched by the European Commission in 2015 with the intent to mobilise public and private sources of finance to be invested in the real economy over the years 2015-2017, the EC proposed to extend and reinforce it. For the next EFSI period, new priorities have been presented, such as sustainability, geographical coverage and transparency. In particular, the EC underlined the importance of sustainability by linking the EFSI to more cross-border and sustainable projects such as targets resulting from the COP21 climate deal. In addition to EFSI, other funding opportunities were made available to our sector: the European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF), a public-private partnership dedicated to mitigating climate change through energy efficiency measures and renewables; the Private Finance for Energy Efficiency (PF4EE), a financial instrument funded by the EU through the LIFE programme and implemented via the EIB; the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for trans-European energy infrastructure projects; and the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF), with a dedicated fund for energy efficiency. EHPA is closely monitoring the funds that could accelerate the needed deployment of heat-pump solutions in Europe.
In July 2014, the EU and 16 other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) started negotiating the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) to remove barriers to trade on “green” goods that directly contribute to environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Negotiations are ongoing: during the last round, which took place in December 2016, ministers and seniors officials have reiterated their share commitment to concluding the EGA, though it was not possible to reach a final agreement and future talks will therefore be needed.
Heat pumps are considered to be part of the list of green products under the EGA negotiations. If this inclusion was confirmed, the conclusion of the agreement would benefit both the industry and the environment, by boosting global trade in green goods and services, helping meet climate and energy targets and providing cheaper access to green technologies worldwide.
In September 2017, the European Commission issued an Industrial Policy Strategy aimed at empowering European industries to continue delivering sustainable growth and jobs and making industries stronger and more competitive. It is a comprehensive strategy whose goal is to help industries stay or become world leaders in innovation, digitalisation and decarbonisation. A strong, competitive and sustainable industry and the promotion of market conditions that encourage investment and innovation are in line both with the objectives of the heat-pump sector and with the Decarb Heat initiative promoted by EHPA to achieve a 100% carbon emission-free, efficient European heating & cooling sector by 2050 (www.decarbheat.eu)
The Strategy also establishes the fora that will allow industry and civil society to lead future industrial policy actions: the European Industry Day (22-23 February 2018) and the High Level Industrial Roundtable, which will put together representatives of national, regional and local authorities, industry, social partners and civil society to provide feedback on the Commission’s initiatives and actions, as well as advise on the implementation of the industrial policy at different levels.
EHPA, through the #Industry4Europe initiative, is actively contributing to advising policy makers on further actions to be taken in several major policy fields such as business-friendly environment and governance, skills & training, research & innovation, access to finance, internal market, trade and international market access.
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