By Antonella Battaglini, Chief Executive Officer, Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI)
In an active move towards decarbonisation, the European Commission has proposed ambitious renewable and energy efficiency targets in the ‘Fit for 55’ package. I believe that the legislative package is a step into the right direction. To succeed in meeting its ambitions, we need to take action on multiple levels: accelerate and scale deployment of renewable energy sources and electricity grids, maximise flexibility options and products, optimise use of resources across supply chains, markets, regions and communities – among others.
I first want to focus on the need for scale and speed which both require more efficient permitting procedures. There is an increasing awareness that we will not be able to achieve decarbonisation targets, nor go beyond them, if we do not fundamentally reform permitting processes. Reforming them, though, does not imply that, for the sake of the energy transition, we sacrifice other fundamental things like protecting nature. The ongoing biodiversity crises is as severe and urgent as the climate one. Instead of choosing between the two we need to embrace the fact that we can address both in parallel and turn the energy transition into an engine for restoring and protecting nature.
We therefore need to be mindful of the fact that resources, including space and the natural environment, are limited and scarcity is the new normal. Optimisation in the use of all resources can help reduce impacts, costs and tensions between energy infrastructure, nature and people, on land and at sea, at local, national and international level. This means, we need to do more with less and pursue multiple objectives in parallel, all of which has to be planned jointly right from the start. An important step in this direction will be to make nature restoration objectives an integral part of planning decarbonisation pathways and investments. The expected EU nature restoration law, could and should be one of the main companion pieces for all energy planning and project developers in the years to come.
Another objective is the need to bring people along. Therefore, in delivering the brave renewable world of energy, it will be important to ensure that communities and citizens across Europe are actively encouraged to become part of a joint effort of transformation through fair and transparent policies that also take care of the most vulnerable in society. When implementing the Fit for 55 package, special attention should be given to creating opportunities and support mechanisms for impacted communities and people including via the newly introduced Social Climate Fund.
Scarcity is a challenge but also a source of innovation and new opportunities to find solutions across the technical, environmental and social dimension of the energy transition. This approach should be underpinning the implementation of the Fit for 55% package.
The Electrification Alliance’s event on the morning of November 17 presents the perfect forum to discuss the best policy approaches. Join top-level policymakers, CEOs of leading energy companies in Europe and us and our partners in the Alliance to define the way we can Electrify Now!