The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of tax exemption measures for non food-based biogas and bio propane used for heating or as motor fuel in Sweden. Under two separate schemes, Sweden exempts from energy and CO₂ taxation (i) biogas that is used in heat generation (former scheme last prolonged in 2018) and (ii) biogas that is used as motor fuel (former scheme last prolonged in 2015).
With the decisions, the Commission approves for both schemes a 10-year prolongation of the tax exemption (2021-2030), with two modifications: i) limiting the tax exemption to only non-food based biogas and ii) extending the tax exemption to non-food based bio-propane. The objective of the tax exemption is to increase the use of biogas and bio-propane and to reduce the use of fossil fuels and their greenhouse gas emissions, while facilitating the transition towards advanced biofuels. The Commission assessed the measures under EU state aid rules, in particular the Guidelines on State Aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020.
The Commission found that the tax exemptions were necessary and appropriate for stimulating the production and consumption of domestic and imported biogas and bio propane, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. In addition, the schemes will contribute to the efforts of both Sweden and the EU as a whole to deliver on the Paris agreement and move towards the 2030 renewables and CO₂ targets. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measures are in line with EU state aid rules.
Commission approves one-year prolongation of tax exemption for biofuels in Sweden
The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, the prolongation of the tax exemption measure for biofuels in Sweden. Sweden has exempted liquid biofuels from energy and CO₂ taxation since 2002. The scheme was prolonged following the Commission decision in case SA. 48069 in 2017 until 31 December 2020. By this decision, the Commission approves a one-year prolongation of the tax exemption (from 01 January 2021 to 31 December 2021).
The objective of the tax exemption measure is to increase the use of biofuels and to reduce the use of fossil fuels in transport. The Commission assessed the measures under EU state aid rules, in particular the Guidelines on State Aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020. The Commission found that the tax exemptions are necessary and appropriate for stimulating the production and consumption of domestic and imported biofuels, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. In addition, the scheme will contribute to the efforts of both Sweden and the EU as a whole to deliver on the Paris agreement and move towards the 2030 renewables and CO₂ targets.
The support to food-based biofuels should remain limited, in line with the thresholds imposed by the revised Renewable Energy Directive. Furthermore, the exemption can only be granted when operators demonstrate compliance with sustainability criteria, which will be transposed by Sweden as required by the revised Renewable Energy Directive. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is in line with EU state aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the State Aid Register under the case number SA.55695.
Waste-to-energy is at home in #CircularEconomy - #CEWEP Presents #SustainabilityRoadMap2035
On 24 September, CEWEP, representing the operators of European Waste-to-Energy plants launched the first ever Waste-to-Energy Sustainability Road Map. The new document, presented in front of more than 100 European policymakers, stakeholders and industry representatives in Brussels details the sector’s vision to 2035 showing how the Waste-to-Energy sector provides essential services to the society.
“We cannot talk about circular economy in 2035 without talking about how to keep the material cycles clean, how to make sure that all the waste that cannot be recycled is still treated securely, that all the value inherent in the residual waste, energy and materials, is used. In other words, as Waste-to-Energy sector, we feel at home in the circular economy, we are and we will be needed,”said Paul De Bruycker, president of CEWEP during the event.
According to CEWEP calculations, Europe will still produce around 142 million tonnes of residual waste that will need treatment in 2035 even if all the waste targets set by EU Waste Laws adopted in 2018 are reached on time. A debate is needed of how to best treat this waste, especially since current treatment capacities would not be sufficient for around 40 million of this residual waste (more information). Furthermore, future EU legislation should tackle commercial and industrial waste by setting binding recycling and landfill diversion targets for these waste streams.
The road map calls for recognition of Waste-to-Energy’s role in treating waste contaminated with substances which are not fit for recycling and this way enabling quality recycling. Additionally, Waste-to-Energy also contributes to recycling by recovering metals and minerals from the bottom ash. While the recovered metals are counted towards the recycling targets, the recycling of the mineral fraction of bottom ash does not have the same recognition even though raw materials like sand and gravel that would be needed in various construction applications are replaced in this manner.
In its road map CEWEP calls for recognition of Waste-to-Energy’s holistic role in climate protection by treating waste that would otherwise end up in landfills and replacing fossil fuels that would have been burned in conventional power plants. The electricity, heat and steam produced by European Waste-to-Energy Plants are supplied to residents and industry, however, expansion of the available infrastructure would help to utilize this energy even more efficiently.
“A lot of questions have been popping up: how to treat mixed waste, how to reliably treat commercial and industrial waste, how to significantly reduce large scale landfilling, how to decrease GHG emission, etc. All these important issues need to be tackled and we need Waste-to-Energy for that,” summarized Paul De Bruycker.
The event was co-organised with ESWET, the European association representing manufacturers in the field of Waste-to-Energy Technology, where they also presented a Vision of Waste-to-Energy in 2050: Clean Technologies for Sustainable Waste Management.
Towards a climate-neutral Europe: EU invests more than €10bn in #InnovativeCleanTechnologies
The Commission has announced an investment programme worth more than €10 billion for low-carbon technologies in several sectors to boost their global competitiveness.
EU innovative climate action, as announced on 26 February, has a range of benefits for the health and prosperity of Europeans with an immediate, tangible impact on people's lives – from the creation of local green jobs and growth, to energy-efficient homes with a reduced energy bill, cleaner air, more efficient public transport systems in cities, and secure supplies of energy and other resources.
Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Less than three months after adopting our strategic vision for a climate neutral Europe by 2050, we are putting our money where our mouth is. Our objective is to keep building a modern, competitive and socially fair Paris-aligned economy for all Europeans. For this to happen, we will need deployment of clean innovative technologies on an industrial scale. This is why we are investing in bringing to the market highly innovative technologies in energy intensive industries, in carbon capture, storage and use, in the renewable energy sector and in energy storage. We are unleashing technological solutions in all member states and pressing the fast-forward button in our transition to a modern and climate-neutral society in Europe.”
The Commission wants to ensure that Europe continues to be at the top of the league as regards new high-value patents for clean energy technologies. This leadership provides a global competitive advantage, allowing Europe to harvest first mover benefits by increasing exports of European sustainable products and sustainable technology and business models.
On 28 November 2018, the European Commission adopted a strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy by 2050 – A Clean Planet for all. The strategy shows how Europe can lead the way to climate neutrality while preserving the competitiveness of its industries by investing into realistic technological solutions. This transition also requires further scaling-up of technological innovations in energy, buildings, transport, industry and agriculture sectors.
The Commission aims to launch the first call for proposals under the Innovation Fund already in 2020, followed by regular calls until 2030.
The Innovation Fund will pool together resources amounting to around €10bn, depending on the carbon price. At least €450 million allowances from the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) Directive will be sold on the carbon market in the period 2020-2030. The revenues of these sales depend on the carbon price, which is currently around €20.
Any undisbursed revenues from the Innovation Fund's predecessor, the NER 300 programme, will also be added to the Innovation Fund. Thus, the total endowment of the Fund can be around EUR 10 Billion.
The Innovation Fund aims to create the right financial incentives for companies and public authorities to invest now in the next generation of low-carbon technologies and to give EU companies a first-mover advantage to become global technology leaders.
The Innovation Fund builds on the experience from the NER300 programme, the current EU programme to support the demonstration of carbon capture and storage and renewable energy technologies. It expands its scope to also explicitly cover energy storage and energy intensive industries and is better tailored to promote innovation through an improved and simplified governance. It will offer grants to cover up to 60% of the additional capital and operational costs linked to innovation for the selected projects, disbursing the money in a flexible way based on the needs of individual projects.
In addition, following the Commission's decision to reinvest the unspent funds from the first NER 300 call amounting to some €487.6 million, the transfer of unspent NER300 funds to InnovFin Energy Demo Projects is now taking effect and the Commission confirmed that three existing projects can now benefit from a loan guarantee backed by funds from the NER300.
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