Cleantech divide looms in Europe
Investment in the development of the cleantech sector in Europe is too slow and unevenly spread across EU member states and despite its best intentions, it is not clear that the EU’s Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) will rectify this.
Unveiling the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) earlier this year, Ursula Von Der Leyen declared it would “create the best conditions for those sectors that are crucial for us to reach net-zero by 2050: technologies like wind turbines, heat pumps, solar panels, renewable hydrogen as well as CO2 storage.”
Progress in the development of the cleantech sector still needs to be faster, and investment across EU member states is unevenly spread. And despite the best intentions, it is unclear whether the Act, which MEPs vote on this week, will rectify this.
The Net Zero Industry Act sets ambitious targets for increasing Europe’s cleantech manufacturing capacity. However, tweaking the EU’s regulatory architecture will only get us so far. To truly grow Europe’s green industry, an ambitious, EU-level Cleantech Investment Plan should be the next priority.
The EU’s current investment offer is not up to this challenge. The Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP), the proposed investment package supporting the Act, lacks muscle. If passed, it would see just €10 billion of public funds invested across cleantech, deep tech (such as AI) and biotech – hardly enough to spark an EU-wide wave of growth. For perspective, Germany offered the same to one microchip plant, and has spent billions more in subsidies to its economy.