The clean energy transition has spurred the modernisation of the European economy, driven sustainable economic growth and brought strong societal and environmental benefits for European citizens. The EU has been broadly on track to achieve its 2020 greenhouse gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. For 2030, ambitious targets have been set for renewables (32% of total energy consumption) and energy efficiency (32,5% reduction compared to projections), and new rules have been adopted to ensure that these targets will be reached in a cost-efficient way that keeps energy prices competitive and maintains the high-level of security of supply in the EU.
The targets for 2030 are however only intermediate – they support the EU to get on track to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. The Commission’s long-term strategy outlines the economic and societal transformations required to achieve the transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the European Green Deal aims to further cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
For the EU to keep or even increase the pace of the energy transition, it is necessary to look beyond the ‘conventional’ wisdom and beyond the energy sector to other trends, science and sectors and scan the horizon for (potentially) relevant technologies and innovations that can contribute to the energy transition. A multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral monitoring, analysis of and debate on new technologies and innovations is needed to ensure adequate policy responses in support of the energy transition and to feed into the structural dialogues with stakeholders (e.g. on energy market legislation, infrastructure, research and innovation).