15 November 2023
EECHA opens a registry of restriction intentions on PFAS
On 8 November, the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) opened a registry of restriction intentions in prevision of outcomes of negotiations on PFAS. ECHA recalls that restriction proposals may be prepared by a Member State or by ECHA at the request of the Commission or on its own initiative for substances in the Authorisation List. It is a legal requirement for a Member State to notify ECHA of its intention to prepare a restriction dossier. The advance notice enables interested parties to plan and prepare for commenting later on. Interested parties can follow the progress of a proposal through the restriction process, from the notification of the intention to the adoption of the final opinions by the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and the Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC), and the adoption of the restriction by the European Commission. Stakeholders are also encouraged by ECHA to submit any relevant information to the dossier submitters during the preparation of the restriction proposal and during the consultations. Finally, the agency highlights that information to motivate any exemptions to the scope described in the intention is particularly useful to receive in the preparatory phase of the dossier.
European Waste Management Association
discussion on PFAS
On 8 November, FEAD, the European Waste Management Association, hosted a conference on PFAS in the waste sector to analyse the impact of a potential ban. During the event, the Environmental Engineering Research Team of the University of Padova presented their results of a critical review, commissioned by FEAD, on the presence of PFAS in relevant waste streams. The initiative is in response to the ‘PFAS ban’ proposal spearheaded by several EU Member States and submitted to ECHA at the beginning of this year. The outcome of the critical review intends to help policymakers, the industry, and the public to understand the impacts of the proposed restriction for the waste management sector and provide scientifically-sound bases for reliable regulation.
Clean Energy Technology Observatory report on heat pumps in the EU
On 6 November, the Clean Energy Technology Observatory released a report on heat pumps in the European Union. According to the report, the EU boasts nearly 20 million installed heat pumps, with robust deployment evident through the sale of 3 million units in 2022. Despite this positive momentum, the Observatory identifies potential short-term impediments such as installer shortages, fluctuating metals prices, and supply chain disruptions for components like semiconductors and permanent magnets. The report underscores the advantageous position of EU-based heat pump manufacturing to capitalize on rising demand, aligning with market and regulatory preferences for reduced environmental impacts. While the trade deficit in 2022 expanded to EUR 856 million, significant investments exceeding EUR 5 billion between 2020 and 2030 signal a commitment to bolstering EU manufacturing capabilities. Recognizing heat pumps as a mature technology, ongoing innovation focuses on enhancing efficiency and reducing upfront costs, with the EU leading in hydronic and large heat pump technologies as evident in patenting trends, scientific publications, and public RD&I funding. This report has been implemented by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre on behalf of DG Research and Innovation, in collaboration with DG Energy.
Wattenfall report on energy savings
On 30 October, Wattenfall released its 2023 report entitled “Busting energy saving myths: What we should and shouldn’t do this winter” provides the reader with detailed data in this regard. The data covers a range of indicators such as consumption by Member States, fuels used, the role of biomass in industrial heat production and decentralised heating systems. Through this report, readers will become aware of the importance of heating in the EU27 energy mix, both industrial and residential, but also of the versatility of biomass when it comes to meeting these needs.
AmCham EU position paper on Net-Zero Industry Act
On 26 October, the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AmCham EU) unveiled its position paper titled “The European Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA): planting the seeds for sustainable economic growth.” According to AmCham, the NZIA passed by the European Parliament on 25 October, represents a pivotal opportunity for the EU to address climate change while fostering economic prosperity. AmCham EU supports this initiative, emphasizing the need for inclusive measures that recognize technologies contributing to decarbonization, such as Carbon Capture and Storage, in the benefit package. In its paper AmCham EU also urges regulatory coherence, geographic non-discrimination, simplified funding support, and a resolution to the current skills shortage to strike a balance between environmental goals and maintaining EU competitiveness. Finally, AmCham EU highlights that the collaboration between American industry in Europe and the EU is contingent upon strategic investments, incentives, and a concerted effort to avoid duplications in a bid to redirect supply chains away from strategic rivals.
ITRE Committee adopt the Net-Zero Industry Act report
On 25 October, MEPs of the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee adopted the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) report proposed by MEP Christian Ehler (EPP, Germany) with 43 in favor, 12 against, and 3 abstentions. The main evolution of the text is the inclusion of nuclear power in the list of net-zero technologies. The proposed approach also aims to discard a contentious roster of ‘strategic net-zero technologies’ in favor of designating investments in net-zero technologies as ‘strategic net-zero projects.’ This shift allows for expedited permitting and enhanced funding eligibility, contingent on criteria such as contributions to EU competitiveness and workforce reskilling. The reports need now to be adopted in EU plenary session that will occur at the end of November.
WWF position paper on Net-Zero Industry Act
On 25 October, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) published a position paper on amendments to the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) adopted by the European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee. On this paper, WWF expresses concerns on the Committee’s decision to broaden the legislation’s scope to include various technologies and permit projects in Natura 2000 areas as it may compromise the NZIA’s primary goal of achieving the 2030 climate targets, risking the allocation of taxpayers’ funds to unproven technologies. The paper adds that by shifting the focus from clean technologies for EU industry decarbonization in the next decade, the Committee’s amendments raise concerns about the inclusion of technologies like nuclear fusion. In response to the European Commission’s acknowledgment that the EU is not on track to meet its 2030 climate targets, WWF regrets the oversight of the NZIA’s potential role in aiding European industry decarbonization. The WWF emphasizes the importance of focusing on proven green technologies and allocating resources to renewable hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies for targeted sectors. The organization also regrets the Industry Committee’s failure to exclude the deployment of industrial clusters, Net Zero Industry Valleys, in Natura 2000 sites, highlighting potential environmental and biodiversity risks.
European Environmental Bureau report on invest on heat pumps in the EU
On 23 October, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) released a noteworthy report titled “Diverting Half of Fossil Boiler Subsidies to Heat Pumps Can Decarbonise Heating by 2040.” The report emphasizes that redirecting just half of the annual €3.2 billion fossil heating subsidies from Member States to heat pumps could lead to a complete transition to 100% renewable heat in Europe by 2040. The research further reveals that a manageable additional investment of €21 billion over the next 15 years would ensure a fairer and cleaner energy landscape, offering a 7-year payback for all citizens installing heat pumps and full upfront cost coverage for families in need. The study also highlights the inadequacy of ambition in decarbonizing heating and cooling in the draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) presented by most Member States, while providing insights into the affordability and efficiency of heat pump usage across various European nations.
Ongoing negotiations on F-Gases
On 18 October, the representatives of Member States agreed on a provisional text on the European Commission’s proposal to further reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases). Members of the Environment (ENVI) Committee in the European Parliament also agreed on a position on 24 October. According to the current negotiations’ outcomes, the text aims at amending the existing quota system, gradually reducing the supply of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) to the EU market to 2.4% of 2015 levels by 2048. It would also ban F-gases in specific applications and update the rules on implementing best practices, leak checking, record keeping, training, waste treatment and penalties. The current licensing system and labelling obligations would be strengthened in order to improve the enforcement of trade restrictions. Finally, the proposal would align EU legislation with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol to reduce production of HFCs. The Regulation needs now to be formally adopted by the Parliament and Council before publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The regulation will enter into force on the 20th day following its publication in the Official Journal
Inauguration of Germany’s largest cooling supply site
On 10 November, E.ON and Heidelberg University Hospital have inaugurated Germany’s largest cooling supply site with a 48MW capacity. This facility represents a substantial investment by E.ON, the new cooling plant that is initially set to operate at a capacity of 12MW, with expansion plans aligned with the evolving cooling requirements of the university. The installation of up to 27 hybrid recoolers will significantly contribute to a recooling capacity of up to 65MW, promoting efficiency and reducing raw water requirements. This development, coupled with the existing cooling center with a generation capacity of 40MW, now positions the site as Germany’s largest and one of Europe’s most substantial cooling supply installations.
Commissioner Kadri Simson in Slovakia for discussion on heat pumps and nuclear energy
On 6 and 7 November, Commissioner on Energy, Kadri Simson was in Slovakia for discussions with energy stakeholders from across Europe, in particular to discuss nuclear energy outlook and the launch of the European Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Partnership. She first visited the Vaillant Heat Pump Mega Factory and gave an opening speech at the European SMR Partnership event that takes stock of the preparatory work and clarifies the next steps. The establishment of the SMR Partnership was one of the objectives set in June 2021 at the first EU workshop on SMRs , for creating a collaboration scheme to work towards the operationalization of the first European SMRs at the start of the next decade, as well as contributing to the EU’s objectives of decarbonising the European energy system. The Commissioner also attended to a bilateral meeting with Minister for Economy of the Slovak Republic, Denisa Saková. She gave the opening speech at the 16th European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF), co-hosted by the European Commission and the government of Slovakia. This event gathered European stakeholders for discussions on the role of nuclear energy in Europe.
French Bank of Territories survey on urban heating networks
On 7 November, the Banque des Territoires in France published a survey on urban heating networks. While connections to urban heating in France have nearly doubled over the past decade, the growth is deemed “insufficient” for a heating method that is both less greenhouse gas-emitting and 20 to 30% more cost-effective. Despite the undeniable progress in both heating and, to a limited extent, cooling networks for air conditioning (1,563 connected buildings in 2022, up by 118 compared to 2021), the study, conducted in collaboration with Amorce, stresses the urgent need to accelerate expansion. The forthcoming Energy and Climate Planning Law aims to make urban heating a robust focus, targeting the delivery of 90 terawatt-hours (TWh) through heating networks by 2035, with 80% sourced from renewable and recovery energies, compared to 30 TWh in 2022. However, financial constraints pose a challenge, with the survey highlighting the necessity of €30 billion in investments to reach the 68 TWh milestone by 2030. Despite the considerable financial commitment, the study notes that heating network projects are time-consuming for local authorities (approximately 4 to 5 years), while state support, managed by Ademe through the Chaleur fund, falls short of requirements, even though it is at a record-high of €800 million in 2024.
City of London’s report on Net Zero
On 24 October, the City of London Corporation, in collaboration with Hogan Lovells, presented its new report “Advancing Net Zero: The EU and UK in Climate Action Forums” which looks at the pivotal role international climate action forums play in shaping climate policies. This report seeks to examine how the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) could collaborate more effectively to ensure these forums operate to maximum effectiveness.
Heat pump grants increased by 50% in the United Kingdom
On 23 October, the UK Government announced a 50% increase in Heat Pump Grants, allowing households to receive £7,500 for heat pump installations, establishing them as a potentially cost-effective option compared to gas boilers. This enhancement is part of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, positioning it among the more generous schemes in Europe for air source models. The move reflects the government’s approach toward achieving net zero while considering the financial implications for British families. With estimated costs for gas boilers ranging between £2,500 and £3,000, the increased grants aim to reduce expenses for households while meeting international commitments.
Energy Cities workshop on heating and cooling legislation
On 6 December Energy Cities will host a workshop entitled: “What’s EUp: new European heating and cooling legislation impacting local and regional authorities”. This event is organised in the framework of REDI4HEAT project! During the event Energy Cities will provide an overview of the last updates regarding Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Directives on the heating and cooling sector, and how this will impact local and regional authorities in the coming years. Participants will have the opportunity to talk with speakers and audience on the topic.
Euroheat&Power event on Spanish perspectives on the renewable heating and cooling market
On 23 November, Euroheat&Power will host an online roundtable on Spanish perspectives on the Renewable Heating and Cooling market. This discussion is part of the European Technology and Innovation Platform on Renewable Heating & Cooling (RHC-ETIP) and represents a series of national panel discussions and presentations involving market actors and other relevant stakeholders.
Geothermal Heat Pump Days 2023
On 16 and 17 November, Geothermal Heat Pumps Days 2023 will take place in Berlin. This 2-days event is dedicated to exploring the transformative potential of geothermal heat pumps in the journey towards decarbonized heating and cooling. Formerly known (since 2019) as the Shallow Geothermal Days, this annual conference has evolved to emphasize the pivotal role of geothermal large and small scale heat pumps in achieving a sustainable and net-zero future. This event will explore the advancements, innovations, and best practices that shape the future of geothermal heat pumps. It will delve into the integration of renewable electricity sources, the optimization of energy systems, and the utilization of thermal underground storage and teach about new heat pump technologies that could play a substantial role in the energy refurbishment of Civil and Historical buildings across Europe. By sharing knowledge, expertise, and experiences, this event aims to accelerate the adoption and deployment of geothermal heat pumps throughout Europe.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION: The European Commission is made up of 27 Commissioners, 1 for each Member State, and represents the interests of the EU as a whole. Every Commissioner is in charge of a Directorate-General (DG) that can be compared to a Ministry at national level. The European Commission proposes legislation in the form of Regulations and Directives and submits them to the Parliament and Council for discussion and adoption.
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: The European Parliament is made up of 705 MEPs (see below) that are directly elected by EU citizens in 27 Member States.
MEP: Member of the European Parliament, a co-legislator within the EU that is made up of representatives from political parties throughout Member States.
COUNCIL OF THE EU: Co-legislator, made up of representatives from Member State Governments. Has a six-month rotating presidency, currently held by the Czech Republic until the end of 2022.
EUROPEAN COUNCIL: The European Council is made up of the leaders of the EU member states, commonly known as EU27. It defines the EU’s overall political direction and priorities but does not pass laws.
REGULATION: EU legislative act that is binding in its entirety and is to be applied in its entirety across the EU by all EU Member States.
DIRECTIVE: EU legislative act that sets out a goal that all EU Member States must achieve. However, it is up to the EU Member States to adopt their own laws on how to achieve the EU goals enshrined in the Directive.
HORIZON EUROPE: is the EU’s main and biggest Research and Innovation programme for the period of 2021-2027. The programme has an overall funding of €95,5 billion. The program is divided into three pillars: open science, global challenges & industrial competitiveness and open innovation.
INVESTEU: The InvestEU Programme builds on the successful model of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. It brings together, under one roof, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and 13 EU financial instruments currently available. Triggering at least €650 billion in additional investment, the Programme aims to give an additional boost to investment, innovation and job creation in Europe.
EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL: is a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making Europe climate neutral in 2050. The plan is to review EU’s energy and climate laws to bring them in line with this ambition. Green Deal also introduces new legislation on the circular economy, building renovation, biodiversity, farming and innovation.
FIT-FOR-55-PACKAGE: The European Commission’s work program for 2021 included the revisions and initiatives linked to the European Green Deal climate actions and in particular the climate target plan’s 55 % net reduction target are presented under the Fit for 55 package. The package is compiled of two parts, released on 14 July 2021 and 14 December 2021.
REHVA: is the association of European heating, ventilation and air-conditioning associations, based in Brussels.
You can find all relevant EU building policy related information in this useful document.
BILL: A bill is a proposal for a new law, or a proposal to significantly change an existing law. A bill may start in either the Commons or the Lords and must pass a series of stages in each Houses. Once the bill has been agreed by both Houses, it receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament.
HOUSE OF COMMONS: the House of Commons is the lower house and de facto primary chamber of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords (see below), it meets in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as members of Parliament (MPs). Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved.
HOUSE OF LORDS: The House of Lords scrutinises bills that have been approved by the House of Commons. It regularly reviews and amends Bills from the Commons. While it is unable to prevent Bills passing into law, except in certain limited circumstances, it can delay Bills and force the Commons to reconsider their decisions.