New challenges and innovative solutions in Europe’s energy transition

August 10, 2022
Charles River Associates offshore wind farm sunset

In this article published in Innovation News Network, Katerina Kaplet and Bastian Winkelhake discuss the major observations from the E-world conference 2022 that will shape the Future of Europe’s energy transition.

Europe is striving to be a global green digital leader. However, accelerating the charge on digitization and the energy transition is even more challenging in the face of rising energy prices and geopolitical developments that deeply impact the entire energy supply chain. As a result, balancing energy security with sustainability and a changing electricity demand was the context for this year’s E-world conference in Essen, Germany, one of the largest international conferences, gathering energy innovators from across the continent.

Despite market challenges, there are many signs of progress in Europe’s energy transition. In June of this year, the Climate Change Committee reported that the UK has reduced its total territorial emissions by 47% below 1990 levels, and 2021 emissions were still 10% below pre-pandemic levels. In Europe, 2021 saw the highest electric vehicle (EV) sales to date, with a 66% year-on-year increase to over 2.2 million new registrations. Renewable energy generation is also showing positive signs, with Europe boasting a record year in 2021 for new onshore wind installations.

Though positive indicators of Europe’s energy transition exist, further innovation is needed to reach net zero, and a range of actors will need to play a role. Start-ups, for example, are typically perceived as venturing into new, riskier innovations. Larger players tend to focus most of their resources on day-to-day operations and related agendas, with a smaller portion dedicated to higher-risk initiatives. They support innovation by investing in start-ups (and hence ringfencing the risk), rather than driving the process directly.

Beyond the private sector, there is a call for increased involvement from public organisations, particularly regulators and legislators. The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) publishing its draft European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) in April of this year is a good example of where cross-border regulations are demanding increased transparency from companies on environmental performance as an incentive to decarbonize.

All eyes are on the energy sector – both public and private stakeholders – as to what can be delivered to drive Europe’s green energy transition while ensuring bolstered energy security.