Energy transition. A view from the Four Motors for Europe

Last October 27th, 2021, representatives from the regions of the Four Motors for Europe participated in the online event “Energy transition. A view from the Four Motors for Europe”. The session was organized by the Catalan Institute of Energy (ICAEN) as part of the list of events programmed by the Catalan rotating presidency for the 4ME initiative.

The webinar was also considered a part of the Sustainable Energy Week under the major focus of the European Green Deal agenda, and as such, an opportunity for strengthening the cooperation, relations and the exchange of knowledge to commit to the goal of being climate neutral in 2050. It consisted of peer review roadmaps for energy transition as well as an activity that seek to involve private companies in facilitating possible energy transition-focused cooperation projects.

The session started with a welcoming presentation by Joan Vila, CEO of LC Paper and chairperson of the PIMEC Energy Commission of Catalonia. Mr. Vila was also the moderator of the event.

On the institutional level, the Four Motors for Europe was represented by Teresa Jordà, Minister of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda (Catalonia),  Frederic Bonnichon, Vice-President in charge of Environment and Positive ecology (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), Helmfried Meinel, Director General of the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector (Baden-Württemberg) and Raffaele Cattaneo, Minister for the Environment and Climate Change (Lombardy).

The core of the session was a round table where each region of this network presented its road maps, which were designed in accordance with the geostrategic, social and economic conditions of each territory. The intervention also included the participation of a private entity from the specific region that encouraged and provided visibility of the importance of this private and public partnership for the Energy Transition.  

Marta Morera, director of the Catalan Energy Institute (ICAEN) and Irene Pérez Bort, from the Rubí municipality, represented Catalonia. The director of ICAEN presented the main figures o the energy transition in Catalonia. In order to fulfill the European objective of decarbonisation of the energy model, Catalonia will have to reduce to a third the energy consumption by 2050, as well as to achieve an installed power of 38.000MW of fotovoltaics and 32.000MW of wind energy plants. An important part of this fotovoltaic plants will be installed on the ground, taking into consideration that fotovoltaics on roof can only provide roughly a 20% of the total amount of the needed energy in the scope of a 100% renewable energy model. Morera was also concerned that there is the need for a change of mentality of the consumers and a required transformation of the current economic model. She believes that the Next Generation funds will be a good starting point to accelerate this digitalized and innovative transformation.

Irene Pérez Bort presented the in-going initiative “Rubi Brilla” as a successful practice in the second most industrialized municipality of Catalonia. The purpose of the program is to reduce fifty-five per cent of their emissions. It counts with three major lines of action: Citizenship, private companies and public mobility.

The representatives of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region were Catherine Azzopardi, director of the Department of Environment and Energy and Etienne Viennot, project manager at Auvergne Rhône Alpes Environment and Energy. The speakers defined their region as the most industrialized in France, which makes it necessary to have a plan of action to act against emissions that come from those manufacturers. An efficient solution provided was the use of Hydrogen as a source of energy. The region believes that this is a growing fast technology with a competitive market and is possible to apply to many sectors. The industry also predicts the creation of new jobs. However, the current problem with the use of hydrogen is that the facilities are not prepared. It is for this reason that Cathrine Azzopardi announced that the plan implies the introduction of one thousand two hundred new vehicles and the transformation of the energy system for the alpine sector. At the European level, the region is a member of the EU hydrogen alliance with other forty European provinces.

Ulrich Maurer, Head of Department Energy Sector from the Ministry of Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector in the region of Baden-Württemberg presented the idea of “Use of heat from private companies to households” as an innovative system of reuse of energy.  The idea emerges as a solution for the expected increase in the energy demand at the same time that the country will eliminate the last reminding power plant by 2022. The project consists of the creation of a heat pipeline from companies that create heat while its transformation processes and conduct that energy to domestic households which could use that heat like a warm system. The iron company Badishe Stahlwere Kehl has already started the implementation of this technology and provides heat to families in the Baden Region and in Strasbourg, France.

The representative of the region of Baden- Württemberg also stated that they aim to become zero-emissions in 2040. In order to achieve this goal, the installation of photovoltaic plates into new workhouses and redevelopment roofs is mandatory. The measure will also be applied to industries in January 2022. Furthermore, the region will dedicate the 2% of the territory to the installation of these infrastructures.

The Lombardy region was represented by Gian Luca Gurrieri, Climate and Air Quality Head Office for the Directorate-General for Environment and Climate. Mr. Gurrieri expressed that the region aims to combat the climate crisis by investing in renewable energies thus, he presented the project “Photovoltaic systems on Public Housing Services assets of ALER” The main point of this project is the fact that the citizens of this region can adapt their buildings for the installation of solar panels. The public authority provides information and support to the families willing to invest in this new energy. The institutional authorities also have direct contact with universities that provide the system with innovative solutions as the recent studies of the efficiency in changing from biogas to biomethane as a source of clean energy that the public authorities are already promoting.

The institutional closing of the event was given by Muntsa Vilalta,  Director General for Foreign Action, Government of Catalonia. 

This webinar was recorded and is available to watch again here (in English).

Four Motors for Europe Energy Day 2021