As the European Commission releases its new Energy Union strategy, it is the perfect time for Europe to seize the moment and commit to the creation of a low carbon Energy Union in order to stimulate jobs, growth and competiveness, and reenergise foreign and domestic investment.
Union could work as a ‘Grand Marshall Plan’, with a clear economic purpose to
drive forward low-carbon investment. It could unite Member States around one
single vision, as long as we include transition plans for those countries and
industries that have a large carbon footprint and core energy security
The scale and trans-boundary nature of the challenge, calls for a collective, integrated and coherent response, reflecting the energy security and economic resilience gains from lower carbon energy sources, demand management, low carbon infrastructure and technology.
Of course it will not be easy to create a healthy and robust domestic market that is fully connected and offers low carbon solutions, efficiency gains and affordability. That is why we will also need, a European energy investment strategy and a structural reform package that kick starts a competitive EU wide market for low carbon technologies as well as build an open energy market that is inclusive of Europe’s citizens. As the EU decarbonises and fossil fuel use decreases, energy security and affordability will be increasingly driven by the cost and availability of infrastructure finance. The EU needs to invest over €2.5 trillion in energy over the next decade by some estimates , the vast majority in capital-intensive low carbon infrastructure (including power generation, storage, networks and energy efficiency).
The focus should therefore be on how to ensure access to adequate and timely cost-effective finance for energy supply, infrastructure and efficiency investment across the whole of the EU. This will require drawing on under-used pools of European institutional assets. There is particular scope to maximise the synergies between President Juncker’s Jobs, Growth and Investment Package, the Capital Markets Union process and the Energy Union concept.
The companies we work with through The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and the Green Growth Platform all believe that a low carbon Energy Union, if done well could re invigorate Europe’s stagnant economy and keep business in Europe. What we need now is the political will, courage and leadership to make sure this happens!