Low Carbon Technologies
New technology development is essential to enable us to meet our EU and global climate change objectives, but is also a major contributor towards the EU's innovation, jobs and growth agenda. Europe has the know-how, the ability and the ambition to lead the world in developing the technologies required to tackle climate change.
Reinventing our carbon intensive infrastructures is critical if we are to meet our EU and global climate change objectives. Achieving emissions cuts of 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050 requires a process of "decarbonising" the economy. For this to materialise new and innovative low-carbon technologies will have to be developed and deployed.
New and innovative low carbon technologies help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new employment and growth. Europe is a leading player in the area of low carbon technologies and we are maintaining our leading position with a range of policy initiatives.
Providing for the safe deployment of innovative technologies
The Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) makes sure that innovative technologies are deployed safely and that their risks are properly managed. The main issue here concerns carbon capture and storage (CCS) which along with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, is expected to make an important contribution to meet global greenhouse gas emission targets.
The EU has therefore established a legal framework for the environmentally safe geological storage of carbon dioxide, so as to ensure that where this important technology is deployed, the environmental and human health impacts are minimised, and the climate integrity of the technology is assured.
Bridging support for technology commercialisation: the NER300 funding programme
Another aspect of DG CLIMA's work is to provide support for the uptake of new technology. The Emissions Trading System is the principal driver of the deployment of new technology, by putting a price on carbon emissions, and so stimulating the development of technologies which avoid them.
But to get technologies from the pilot scale to the commercial scale (where the ETS incentive takes over), bridging finance is sometimes needed. DG CLIMA's demonstration support initiative, the NER300 funding programme provides substantial funding for the large-scale demonstration of low carbon energy technologies in Europe and is the world's largest programme in this area. In December 2012, after the first call for proposals under NER300, over €1.2 billion was awarded to 23 highly innovative renewable energy demonstration projects.
Unfortunately, no carbon capture and storage (CCS) project could be awarded funding under the first award decision. The majority of projects could not be confirmed by the relevant Member States. In some cases there were funding gaps, while in others projects were not sufficiently advanced. Unused funds from the first call remain available for further projects under the NER300 programme in the second call.
Other EU initiatives in support of low carbon technologies
The activities of DG CLIMA are part of a broad network of low carbon technology initiatives in the Commission. Some other major initiatives are:
- the European Economic Recovery Programme, which allocated around € 1 billion to CCS demonstration and €565 million to offshore wind demonstration
- the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) which aims at accelerating the development and deployment of cost-effective low carbon technologies and builds on an extensive programme for research, development and demonstration of low carbon technologies.
Deploying low-carbon technology internationally
As well as taking a leading global role in the development of low-carbon technology, the EU also supports the uptake of low-carbon technology internationally, in the places where it is most needed.
The EU initiated the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF), an innovative global risk capital fund that will use limited public money to mobilise private investment in small-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in developing countries and economies in transition. It is both a development tool and a contribution to global efforts to fight climate change. It is concrete proof of Europe's commitment to transfer clean technologies to developing countries.