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Sustainable and responsible business


Illustration: factory and flower © Onidji - Fotolia

Identifying and addressing market failures and regulatory barriers that hinder the competitiveness of environmental industries and influence the uptake of more sustainable solutions by other industries is a key objective of the Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy.

A first step in the process of developing policy initiatives for environmental industries consists of carrying out a competitiveness analysis of environmental industries in Europe, with the view to identify areas for future policy initiatives. Analysing which key factors influence the competitiveness of these industries is of utmost importance.

All enterprises, including service enterprises, having energy and environment issues as the core source of income are considered part of eco-industries.

Two broad categories of eco-industries can be considered, one of small and innovative companies acting in the field of, e.g. renewable energy, waste recycling, environmental auditing and consultancy; the other of more capital intensive enterprises providing goods and services in specific areas, e.g. waste, wastewater, transport. Different policy options are required to address the specificities of each of these categories.

Consulting business and other stakeholders is important, notably regarding, the barriers that may hamper growth on the Internal Market; and the mechanisms and incentives to help SMEs to adopt more environmentally friendly and energy efficient solutions.


Renewable Energy Industry

A study on the competitiveness of the EU Renewable Energy Industry was carried out between November 2013 and July 2014 by ICF International, supported by CE Delft, on behalf of the European Commission Directorate-General Enterprise and Industry. The study is based on a number of information channels. The main research approach was a detailed literature review. This included analysis of various published databases to examine R&D investment, turnover, employment, production and trade data for EU REI sectors. This research was supported by consultations with European REI trade associations, who provided invaluable insights on current market dynamics, challenges and policy needs.

The key objectives of the study were to:

  • Provide an assessment of the competitiveness aspects related to EU REI sectors and associated sub-sectors, namely biomass energy, hydropower, geothermal
    energy, ocean energy, solar energy and wind energy;
  • Assess the impact of EU legislation across these six sectors;
  • Assess and define the future potential for renewable energy products and services for different companies sizes in the EU and provide an in-depth strategic outlook
    about future developments; and,
  • Identify ways and means for increasing the competitiveness of the sector.

The Executive Summary of the final report from a study provides a consolidated summary of the key conclusions from an analysis of competitiveness of the European renewable energy industry (REI), including a detailed analysis of the challenges and opportunities for companies operating in the offshore wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) sectors. It also provides a set of suggested policy recommendations.

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