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Commissioner Simson at the Opening Ceremony of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW)

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 23 juni 2020.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to all of you tuning in from near and far across the globe to the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2020!

Today marks a number of important ‘firsts'

  • This is the first time the event taking place since we launched the Green Deal;
  • this is the first ever time the event has gone virtual.
  • And … this is my first Sustainable Energy Week as European Commissioner for Energy, so I am very excited to be here;

This week is about responding to a challenge that is also a first in its kind: a pandemic in a globalised world.

I think there are two ways to look at the situation for our sector: as either a threat or a turning point.

As a threat, we would just focus on how to repair the damage. The pandemic has triggered the largest recession since 1929 and sent shockwaves across the energy markets. Last week we saw new data from the IEA that global energy investment would fall by 20% in 2020, almost double of what we saw in the 2008 financial crisis.

But as a turning point, we should try turning adversity into opportunity. Not by choosing to simply ‘return to normal': don't forget our ‘normal' had us on track to a rapidly heating planet. But by seeing this moment for what it truly is: an opportunity to reignite our economy while driving clean energy efforts even further.

I'm wondering if any of you have seen the map of the world by Stuart McArthur? It's basically a typical representation of the world, except it's flipped upside down with the Pacific Ocean at the centre.

You're looking at the same image you've seen a thousand times, just from a different perspective, and you start to see things you never did before.

What I'm saying is we need to do the same with this crisis. Shift our perspective from seeing the damage that the COVID 19 has done on our lives and our economy and see the opportunity to make a huge leap forward in building a climate neutral society.

We should use this moment to accelerate a radical change, starting with our initiatives for 2020.

Energy efficiency first is where we begin. Because retrofitting buildings is the policy measure with the largest potential for creating new jobs and for reducing emissions in the short term. Buildings consume about 40% of our energy, so we intend to kick-start a wave of building renovation across Europe at double the pace. If we do it right, we could see a movement that manages to be transformative for our energy efficiency and Europe's construction sector alike, getting labour intensive industries back to work and reducing bills for households This is the logic for our Action Plan on buildings renovation that we will launch in September.

Our climate ambitions are pushing us to explore the potential in new low-carbon fuels, like hydrogen. We recognise its high potential as an energy carrier and a central role in decarbonising our system. So, we are launching a Roadmap on how we can build a Hydrogen ecosystem in Europe.

This hydrogen ecosystem complements the role of green electricity to reach net zero and should be powered by renewable electricity, in the medium to long term. In fact, we estimate that when it comes to offshore wind we need to increase our supply twenty-fold. So we are working to present our Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy after the summer to guide us in boosting renewable levels in the energy mix.

There is onecritical component underpinning all of this: infrastructure. The energy system of the future needs the infrastructure to match. And so we will present a revised proposal for TEN-E regulation to do just that by the end of this year.

All of that must come together in a clear vision of the energy system of the future: on the 8th of July we will present such a vision with our Strategy for Energy System Integration.

This is one of the most difficult parts of our work to get right. I like to think of our energy system as a team of people working in a room together silently. Each is productive in their own right, but they are not communicating properly.

Energy System Integration is like creating a new language so that each individual can talk to one another and connect the dots in their work.

Now collaborating as one continuous and intuitive group, their output improves in quality and quantity.

For the energy sector this translates into a continuous system across all energy carriers and infrastructures creating a more circular, decentralised and digitalised system.

That's what we mean by Energy System Integration.

All of these plans are boosted by the Recovery Plan that we proposed a few weeks ago. The Plan is green at its core and armed with instruments that will mobilise private and public actors for the clean energy transition.

The new Recovery and Resilience Facility worth 560 billion EUR will support investments and reforms in line with the NECPs and the Just Transition plans.

REACT-EU offers 55 billion EUR of additional funds for investments in the green and digital transitions, and key for our Renovation Wave that I mentioned.

Leaving no-one behind is a non-negotiable for us and our reinforced Just Transition Fund, increased from €7.5 billion to €40 billion EUR, makes that crystal clear.

The doubling of funds for InvestEU, in particular for the sustainable infrastructure window can support large-scale energy infrastructure, like wind-parks, solar fields or interconnectors. And the new Strategic Investment Facility will lift up the entire clean energy industrial ecosystem in Europe, strengthen its position in the economy while building up value chains of different technologies we need.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the next three days we want to hear your ideas for our plans and everything related to clean energy for recovery and growth. We have organised sessions covering every aspect, whether it is the potential of clean energy technologies, the role of industry and citizens or honouring the work of some of the heroes and leaders in the energy sector.

We have it all. So, if you're as enthusiastic as I am about an economy built on clean, secure, efficient energy, then there is something here for you.

Let's get started!


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