Driving Sustainable Energy in Europe

Consumer support, national policy integration and innovation will help Europe reach its energy efficiency and renewables goals.
Published: Tue 01 Dec 2015

Europe still faces a number of challenges as it works towards its zero emissions target. We invited industry experts to our studios at European Utility Week to discuss how these challenges can be turned into opportunities.

Guiding consumers every step of the way

Harald Halfpaap, CEO of the carbon fund ProKlima discusses how end to end consultation, personalized advice, subsidy programmes and incentives are used in Hanover to achieve energy efficiency and clean energy goals. Established in 1998, the fund aims to reduce carbon emissions and primary energy consumption. The fund rewards Hanover locals for achieving and surpassing the area’s energy efficiency and clean energy goals.

ProKlima also provides an end to end consultancy service to those who wish to create a passive house. “Passive house” technologies are also subsidized by the fund.

As a result of this fund, Hanover has enjoyed significant growth in their energy efficiency levels and clean energy development as they work towards a zero carbon emissions goal.

National policy integration

Simon-Erik Ollus, Chief Economist and Vice President, Industrial Intelligence and Investment Analysis, Fortum Corporation, talks about the challenges that stand in the way of achieving 100% renewables.

To overcome these challenges, he says that Europe needs a broad political consensus as far as strategy is concerned. There is a need to rethink the tools such as subsidization which he says is destroying the electricity market. He adds that energy and climate policies should be designed for the European region as a whole to raise the level of development.

Flexibility of the system is also important and consumers should be more active in the electricity market. Regulation needs to support consumer interactions as this will help to improve flexibility in the system thereby encouraging the creation of additional services. Consumers should be incentivized to become active players in the energy market.

He explains that consumers are over-protected in Europe. “We are combining social politics, economics and energy politics and we are afraid of exposing consumers to a full market price and volatility. If we want to protect our valuable consumers, we should issue social policy-not energy policy. To incentivize consumers, the market must be liberalized.”

Utilities need to adapt to the changes in the energy sector and utility models will have to be much broader in the future, concludes Mr Ollus.

Innovation creating sustainability

Jorg van Heesbeen, Innovation Manager, Co-Founder, Eneco Smart Charging talks about the importance of innovation in the energy sector. He discusses how his firm is taking advantage of the many opportunities in the sector that have come about as a result of the energy transition which has been driven mainly by technology and innovation.

Innovation is viewed as a central aspect to the firm’s strategy. The firm assesses and carries out field tests on innovative ideas developed within and outside the Eneco Group. The firm then introduces these to the market. Four areas of focus include smart home management, smart solutions for sustainable mobility, solar and storage and smart solutions for public spaces in urban areas.

He talks specifically about the electric vehicle’s contribution towards reducing carbon emissions and how innovative software can form a direct link between sustainable transport and sustainably generated energy from which customers can benefit.