Net Zero? It’s all about electrification.
Today, the Electrification Alliance unveiled a new ‘Electrification Manifesto’ urging the European Commission to fast-track the electrification of Europe. The Manifesto calls for a dedicated Electrification Action Plan in the first 100 days of the incoming European Commission’s mandate. At the launch event, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson was named the winner of the inaugural ‘European Electrification Award’. The Commissioner was recognised for her unwavering commitment to advancing the EU Green Deal and promoting the direct, smart electrification of Europe’s energy system with homegrown, clean electricity.
Today, less than 25% of all energy consumed in Europe is electricity. The remaining energy Europeans use to heat their houses, fuel their vehicles and power their factories largely comes from fossil fuels. This needs to change. To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, up to three-quarters of final energy consumption in Europe will be electrified directly or indirectly. To align with the Green Deal, all this electricity will need to come from clean energy sources by then.
But the EU’s electrification efforts are falling short. To advance direct electrification, the EU must:
- accelerate the build-out of renewables
- at least double today’s investments in the optimisation and expansion of electricity grids
- support a rapid uptake of electrified end-user applications like electric cars and trucks in transport and heat pumps in heating
Yet, none of this can be achieved without regulation.
New Electrification Manifesto unveiled
Today, the Electrification Alliance presented a new Manifesto outlining key policies to accelerate the uptake of direct, smart electrification in Europe. The Manifesto calls for a dedicated Electrification Action Plan in the first 100 days of the incoming European Commission’s mandate.
This Electrification Action Plan should set a target of 35% electrification of final energy use across the EU by 2030. It should ensure electrification becomes an integral element of Member States’ National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs).
The Manifesto also calls on the incoming Commission to ramp up investments in electricity grids. Europe needs to overhaul its energy infrastructure planning– starting with an immediate reform of the TEN-E Regulation and Ten-Year Network Development Plan processes for both transmission and distribution system operators. Crucially, grid planning needs better coordination and more political oversight to ensure it delivers on net zero.
Other concrete policy actions in the Manifesto include programmes to attract skilled workers, the prioritisation of direct, smart electrification in the EU’s funding and financing programmes and the empowerment of end-users to utilise the full potential of demand side management.
Read the full Manifesto here.
Commissioner Kadri Simson received the European Electrification Award.
The Electrification Alliance also presented its inaugural ‘European Electrification Award’ to Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, for her outstanding contributions to accelerate the direct electrification of Europe’s economy.
Over the last few years, Commissioner Simson has emphasised the strategic importance of domestically produced renewables and direct electrification on countless occasions. Throughout one of the most severe energy crises in Europe’s history, she has defended the European Green Deal as a means to strengthen Europe’s energy security and ensure affordable energy prices for Europe’s households and industry.
She has been instrumental in shaping key policies to drive direct electrification, including REPowerEU, the EU Solar Strategy, the EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, the EU Electricity Market Design reform, the EU Strategy for Energy System Integration, as well as the Critical Raw Materials Act and the Net Zero Industry Act as part of the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan.
The award ceremony took place at the factory site of Audi Brussels. Since 2018, only 100% of electric cars have been manufactured at the certified CO₂-neutral plant. To achieve net CO₂-neutrality, Audi Brussels only uses green energy and even produces renewable electricity onsite: 107,000 m² of solar cells on the factory’s roofs generate around 9,000-megawatt hours of electricity annually. Any emissions that cannot yet be avoided (around 5%) are offset by environmental projects to achieve carbon neutrality. Furthermore, Audi Brussels takes part in Audi’s environmental program Mission: Zero to reduce its ecological footprint in Logistics and Production. Currently, Audi is examining whether wind energy projects could be realized on the factory premises.
Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “Electrification will play a crucial role in the next decades to deliver an efficient, secure, decarbonised and integrated energy system. Electricity will become our main energy carrier by 2040, and we need to ensure that both the market conditions and infrastructure will push the transition forward. I look forward to continuing our good cooperation with the power sector to build a strong EU-market where electricity is always produced in the cheapest and cleanest possible way, and delivered to where it is needed.”
You can download photos of the award ceremony here.
At the award ceremony, the representatives of the Electrification Alliance commented:
Philippe Vangeel, AVERE Secretary General, said: ”Electrification is not just a vision; it’s a vital pathway to a sustainable future. As we honour Energy Commissioner Simson for her dedication to electrification, let’s remember that targets must evolve into tangible actions, and the time to double down on electrification is now. Commissioner Simson’s commitment is commendable and essential. Let’s charge forward with electrification.”
Thomas Nowak, Secretary General of the European Heat Pump Association, said: “Boosting electrification is crucial to decarbonising heating and cooling through heat pumps. Commissioner Simson has carefully led the EU’s energy agenda at a time of rapid change and geopolitical uncertainty. The next step? Ensure electricity prices are no more than double the price of gas for a greener and more resilient Europe.”
Kristian Ruby, Eurelectric Secretary General, said: “Energy Commissioner Simson has been a guiding force in putting electrification at the heart of the Green Deal over the course of this past mandate making it an easy choice to present her with this electrification award. Now is the time to act on this work – we need to double and triple down on electrification while getting the enabling elements like a modernised grid and sound market design in place to deliver on the objectives envisaged over the past five years. Targets now need to become actions.”
Bernard Respaut, Chief Executive at European Copper Institute (ECI), said: “The Energy Commissioner’s work to foster smart electrification in the EU is encouraging. Copper stands at the forefront of such electrification, enabling renewables and energy efficiency; hence, it is a strategic raw material supporting the EU’s climate and industrial objectives. The next Commission should continue this work and take ambitious steps to accelerate electrification, including through support to net zero value chains, all the way through to the sourcing, refining and recycling of raw materials.”
Julie Beaufils, General Secretary of EuropeOn (European electrical contractors’ association), said: “With accelerated electrification, there are tremendous numbers of new jobs to create at local level for the decades to come. Meanwhile, a rising number of students and jobseekers aspire to purposeful and entrepreneurial missions that have a concrete impact on society… but they hardly ever consider becoming an electrician. We need policymakers and all thought leaders to start valuing and prioritising technical education and careers in electrification because the opportunities are plenty, long-term and thrilling.”
Antonella Battaglini, CEO, Renewables Grid Initiative, said: “Europe needs to prioritise cost- and resource-efficient direct electrification of end-use sectors based on renewables. The swift development of electricity grids plays a crucial role in this context – as do ambassadors who ensure electrification is a priority on the political agenda. Commissioner Simson is one such ambassador.”
Michael Villa, smartEn Executive Director, said: “The EU legislative framework set by the Commissioner to promote smart electrification is remarkable. It must be quickly implemented by Member States to ensure end-users consume clean electricity in a flexible way and play a pivotal role in increasing the efficiency of the energy system.“
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “Presenting Commissioner Simson with this Electrification Alliance Award is a significant moment. Amazing work has been achieved so far, but we cannot stop until we reach Net-Zero emissions. Renewable electricity technologies like solar, will play a key role in delivering the green transition, for all European citizens.”
Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, said: “Electricity is only 23% of the energy we consume today. The rest is the petrol we put in our cars, the gas we burn in our boilers at home and the fuel we put in our planes and ships. Nearly all of that is fossil. We can take the fossil fuels out by electrifying transport, heating and industrial processes. Electrifying is the quickest and cheapest way to decarbonise energy. It’s a no brainer. The EU must embrace it.”