EU energy ministers to discuss Europe’s energy networks, hydrogen strategy and building renovations
The EU Ministers responsible for energy issues will convene in Luxembourg on 11 June 2021. The ministers aim to adopt a general approach on the proposed revision of the regulation on cross-border energy infrastructure (so-called TEN-E regulation), to discuss the hydrogen strategy published by the European Commission in July 2020 and to adopt conclusions on the renovations of buildings in Europe. State Secretary Jukka Ihanus will represent Finland at the meeting on behalf of Minister of Economic Affairs.
Finland can support the adoption of a general approach to the TEN-E Regulation. The Regulation establishes criteria for selecting projects of common interest for cross-border gas and electricity infrastructure and smart grids in the EU. These projects can apply for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility. With the update, the regulation will take better account of the EU’s climate and energy objectives.
After a transitional period, cross-border natural gas projects will no longer be eligible for EU funding. In addition, hydrogen and smart gas network projects will covered by the regulation as new project categories. There is also more co-operation in the development of offshore wind power by sea area.
Europe’s hydrogen strategy, development and funding of hydrogen technology on the agenda
Under the Portuguese Presidency, the ministers will discuss cooperation between the Member States in hydrogen technology and ways to introduce hydrogen to sectors where reducing emissions is difficult. The European Commission published its hydrogen strategy in July 2020 and the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on it in December 2020.
The background document guiding the discussion states that hydrogen plays an important role in Europe’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. According to the document, the development of hydrogen technology should continue, with a number of EU-level programmes and funding channels available for this purpose.
Hydrogen is already used in industry today. It is planned to use clean hydrogen more widely in industry, e.g. in the manufacture of steel and cement, in the oil refining and chemical industries. In transport, hydrogen brings an alternative, especially for heavy road and sea transport. Electric fuels made from clean hydrogen also offer wider options for transport.
Finland endorses the use of the integration and hydrogen strategies of the EU’s energy system in the planning of EU energy policy and policy measures in other sectors. We also support the promotion of the use of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen, particularly through the introduction of new technologies. It is important that all clean electricity production methods can be used.
Conclusions on renovation of European buildings to make them environmentally friendly
The energy ministers are set to adopt conclusions on the renovation wave strategy of European buildings. According to the Commission communication of 14 October 2020, the aim is to create jobs and more environmentally friendly buildings and to enhance people’s quality of life. According to the conclusions, the number of energy renovation projects needs to be doubled by 2030.
Finland agrees with the Commission that improving the energy efficiency of buildings and reducing emissions play a key role in achieving the EU’s climate target for 2030. Finland supports the Commission’s principle of ‘energy efficiency first’, but emphasises the need to take into account the energy efficiency of building elements and technical systems as well as the energy system as a whole.
It is important that greenhouse gas emissions of construction materials and the principles of circular economy are considered in renovation. Finland supports wood construction and measures to increase the use of nature-based solutions and innovations.
Other items on the agenda include current issues on external relations, the programme of the upcoming Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, and the EU Taxonomy Regulation.
Riku Huttunen, Director General, Minister of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 431 6518
Nina Alatalo, Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs (EU and International Affairs), tel. +358 50 431 8015
Eero Karjalainen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 501 7746 (EU energy coordination within the Ministry)
Ville Niemi, Senior Specialist, Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU, Brussels, tel. +32 479 470 175