Chelgate Public Affairs Newsletter – January 2021
This month’s edition looks at Portugal’s flagship green hydrogen project, Oslo’s and Rotterdam’s approach to electric construction and garbage collection, reveals the EU’s and UK’s new post-Brexit transport agenda, and much more…
Portugal’s Green Flamingo: how the green hydrogen project reflects the priorities of the Portuguese Council Presidency.
“The world is moving ahead on the need to decarbonise and the need to commit to climate neutrality — so in that context, the importance of hydrogen increases on almost a daily basis,” said Frans Timmermans, the Commission’s Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal. Indeed, Hydrogen is in everyone’s ears – not just in Brussels.
While nowadays roughly 95% of worldwide hydrogen comes from fossil fuels, EU member states are committed to generating hydrogen from renewable sources. Portugal is eager to take the lead in Green Hydrogen, and its ambitions are reflected in its Presidency of the European Council, which the country holds from January to June 2021.
Due to Portugal’s high sun exposure, the country is best placed to produce hydrogen from solar energy. The recently launched “Green Flamingo” project seeks to realise this potential. Supported by the European Union, the public-private partnership will build a 1,000-megawatt capacity green hydrogen unit at the Portuguese Algarve.
The project not only contributes to Portugal’s national decarbonisation strategy, which foresees the elimination of coal-based power generation by 2030 and full decarbonisation of the power generation system by 2050. Importantly, it also reflects the climate action agenda of the Portuguese Council Presidency.
The Portuguese are committed to leveraging the Coronavirus recovery efforts by the climate transition. Incentivising investments in renewable energy is a key goal of the Presidency, and the Portuguese made clear that it will ensure that environmental and social aspects are considered in private investment decisions.
From a foreign policy point of view, Portugal looks to strengthen the role of the EU as a climate action forerunner on the international stage, and research and investments in projects like Green Flamingo shall help the bloc developing cutting edge decarbonisation technologies.
Lastly, the Portuguese wish to boost cooperation among EU member states on climate matters. As a project co-led by the Dutch and Portuguese government that envisages the export of green hydrogen to other European countries, the Green Flamingo initiative already is a real-life representation of this ambition.
UK and EU set out transport priorities
For those who did not notice, there was a major policy announcement by the UK Government just before the Christmas break – the publication of the Energy White Paper. Coincidentally, the EU Commission also published their Smart Sustainable Mobility Package around the same time.
With the publication of these respective policy papers, sustainable transport looks set to be the first area of potential divergence between the EU and UK in the post-Brexit world. Such divergence presents new opportunities to companies looking to engage with policymakers.
For those European companies who until now have not needed to read UK Government policy papers – understandable given the jurisdiction of the EU Institutions in the environmental area – the Energy White Paper document may seem confusing. Don’t expect to have a separate annex document with a regulatory timetable and timeline, don’t expect to be able to read about recasting of current rules, and certainly don’t expect to see references to current EU rules.
However, the UK Government document does appear ambitious, albeit vague in its execution. Electric, hydrogen, and even nuclear, have won the day and the initial targets set appear ambitious. Carbon capture technologies are central to the strategy and there will be transitional arrangements for those reliant on fossil fuels.
The execution of the UK Governments Energy White Paper remains to be decided and UK policymakers will no doubt be keen to listen to the views of industry as to how they go about putting their ambitions into practice, prior to COP 26.
With both the EU and UK seeking to compete against each other to demonstrate their sustainability credentials to the incoming Biden Presidency, this should be a productive time for companies who engage with both the EU and UK policymakers to increase their awareness.
Please contact Chris Morris if you would like to know more information about the post-Brexit transport agenda.
EU – UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Messages from the stakeholders
For many stakeholders, the news that the EU and Britain sealed the post-Brexit trade deal on Christmas Eve was the most welcome Christmas gift. While the 1256 pages-strong document is still under scrutiny, the first reactions from stakeholders across the agriculture, energy and transport sphere show great relief.
Agriculture and food production
With around 30% of the UK’s food supply imported from the European Union, the farming industries on both sides of the Channel had a major interest in a trade deal, and so the zero-quota, zero-tariff agreement came as a relief to the farming lobby. In Brussels, the industry heavyweights Copa Cogeta and FoodDrinkEurope warmly welcomed the deal yet called for urgent measures to avoid further border chaos. Copa Cogeta emphasises that “stormy waters lie ahead” in the adaptation to the new Brexit realities, calling on the Commission to swiftly adopt the 5 billion Euro EU Brexit Adjustment Reserve for farmers and Agri-cooperatives. While UK farmers are not entitled to support under the reserve (“Brexit means Brexit”), the National Farmer Union’s likewise calls upon the government to “do all it can” to avoid border disruptions.
While there is disagreement on which side of the road to drive on, carmakers both in the EU and UK agree that the trade deal agreement is a great relief for carmakers. Indeed, a no-deal scenario would have been catastrophic for the industry, and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders estimating that a no-deal Brexit could cost the UK car industry up to £55 billion in five years, increasing the average price to a car in the UK by £2000.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) wishes to await the details of the agreement before making a full assessment, but an initial statement reads that ACEA boss Eric-Mark Huitema is “extremely relieved” that an agreement was struck. Just like many other European stakeholders, ACEA at the same time highlighted the red tape and regulatory burden Brexit means for the industry – even with a trade agreement in place.
Although the UK’s withdrawal from the EU Energy Union will require new agreements on the cross-border trade of gas and electricity, the voice of the UK energy industry, Energy UK, regards the agreement as the “best outcome” for the energy sector and the national Net Zero target.
Rotterdam’s rubbish electric and Oslo’s quiet construction
The EU Commission’s has made sustainable transport and the development of a circular economy policy priorities. In practice, this will require EU cities and regions to develop new innovative way of going about their usual work – particularly in urban areas. Every town and city will have unique challenges in implementing EU sustainability policy over the coming years and each will look to cut emissions in their own way. With the EU Commission looking to roll out new initiatives, attention turns to cities and regions running exciting new sustainable projects to demonstrate how Europe can hit future green goals.
Two recent examples of projects being set up involve the use of electric garbage trucks in Rotterdam and electric construction equipment in Oslo.
Rotterdam is seeking to lead the way in its rubbish collection by acquiring a small number of electric garbage trucks to quietly collect the city’s waste.
Rotterdam is already well known for its penchant for all things electric and these new garbage trucks will join the already large fleet of electric bikes, scooters and cars dominating the Dutch city’s streets.
Rotterdam is looking to overcome problems surrounding the charging of such vehicles before expanding the fleet and the best practice from this will no doubt be welcomed by other cities and regions looking to go green on their rubbish collection. Rubbish collection has always been viewed as a hard to reach area of sustainability and many will be watching the successes and failures of this current project.
Over in Oslo, the city is trialing the idea of a purely electric construction site. Using green procurement, the city has trialed one such building renovation project with only electric machinery and equipment. Again, the main issues revolve around the ability to charge and keep operations moving, but lessons are set to be learned over the coming months and shared with other regions.
The EU Commission has earmarked 2021 as an important year for developing a truly circular economy and projects such as these are set to become ever more important to demonstrate proof of concept projects.
If you would like to know more information about the post-Brexit transport agenda or on any of the above content please contact our Chelgate Public Affairs team. Alternatively, you can contact our London Office here.