The European Commission has tabled a Recovery Strategy of unprecedented scope: €1.85 trillion to counter the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The plan is presented as a chance to accelerate the European Green Deal. But it will only be as green as the projects it funds and the jobs it creates. Society expects the huge resources invested to help build a resilient, future-proof economy. Government, Industry and Financial Institutions can deliver by channelling the money where it would best serve the energy transition.
First, the Strategy must prioritise investments in new and repowered wind energy projects with support from the European Investment Bank and backed by InvestEU. The doubling of InvestEU’s Sustainable Infrastructure Window would allow the EU to substantially increase its support here. This is an immediate issue: the spike in financing costs resulting from the crisis has caused many wind projects to be put on hold. This makes it harder to achieve EU climate & energy targets and boost growth.
The €15 billion Strategic Investment Facility within InvestEU should help strengthen the wind energy value chain by facilitating corporate and project finance. Keeping a world-leading EU wind industry is essential for a Green Deal made in Europe.
R&D funding – Horizon Europe – will be frontloaded, which is positive. It should support the technologies that curb climate change like onshore wind, help improve the recyclability of wind blades, and drive the industrialisation of e.g. floating offshore wind.
The European Commission has made a strong political choice in increasing 5-fold the Just Transition Fund. This should support the re-training of coal miners into the jobs required by the Green Deal, for example in the manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance of wind farms.
And the Recovery Strategy must help deploy the right infrastructure. The Recovery & Resilience Instrument and InvestEU must prioritise Electricity grids. They are central to our decarbonisation agenda: electricity will be at least half of our energy in 2050, up from less than a quarter today. The Recovery & Resilience Instrument and InvestEU should also support physical infrastructure essential for wind energy installations: roads, bridges, and ports. Investing in these infrastructure projects can create jobs today.
Crucially, money alone won’t be enough to restart the economy with renewables. If we don’t deal with structural policy problems, Europe won’t get the wind investments it needs. Europe needs faster permitting of renewable energy projects, good volumes in wind auctions, visibility on revenues thanks to Contracts for Difference, and the right spatial planning. National Governments must address all these points as part of their National Energy and Climate Plans to 2030.
On 19 June Heads of State and Government will respond to the Commission’s proposals. We call on Governments to confirm they want a Green recovery. The wind industry stands ready to deliver.
Source: WindEurope asbl/vzw, 11 June 2020