The 13th Conference of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) took place in Helsinki, Finland, in November 13 - 15, 2019 under the auspices of the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in collaboration with the European Commission.
The event was an opportunity for policy-makers, businesses, academics and stakeholders to evaluate progress on the objectives of the SET Plan, and promote the twin goals of sustainable climate change mitigation and European industrial leadership. It was attended by approximately 420 participants and 130 live broadcast observers who actively participated in the conversation through interactive tools and social networks. On the first day of the Conference, the hashtag #setplan2019 ranked third as viral phenomena in Finland.
After recalling Finland’s objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035, Antti Rinne, the Prime Minister of Finland, kicked-off the Conference with opening statements from Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General of DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission, and Ditte Juul-Joergensen, Director-General of DG Energy of the European Commission. This welcoming session was followed by a panel discussion on the policy context of the SET-Plan that provides an essential framework for promoting the Energy Union’s goals in the area Research and Innovation (R&I).
The conference sessions addressed the decarbonisation of industry, sector integration and developments in renewable energy. Stathis Peteves, moderated the panel on “future fuels”. Key actors of the transport sector that included the maritime and aviation industry discussed on how to build up the industrial base and infrastructure for producing the fuels (and feedstock) of the future. Heavy-duty vehicles, ships and airplanes, in particular, will still rely on liquid and gaseous fuels in the future.
UPM Biofuels and Neste are companies that increase renewable fuel production volumes significantly and recalled that huge investments in bio-refineries are needed to meet the fast increasing demand of renewable fuels by 2040 for commercial vehicles and aviation. Neste is currently one of the few companies in the world capable of producing renewable aviation fuel at commercial scale. The Head of Research at the Global Maritime Forum also called for further investments in R&D quoting that “the ships built in 2030 will be those that will produce emotions in 2050”. The Executive Director of the Joint technology initiative on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (FCH-JU) acknowledged that the continuous support to develop higher capacity electrolysers led to cost reduction and brought 3 years of technological advantage for the EU compared to the rest of the world. Finally, the President of Biofuels of TOTAL stressed that the objective of reducing 2050 GHG will not be met if we do not get involved.
The panel concluded that electrification plays a key role in decarbonizing the needs of the fleet of passenger vehicles, but liquid fuels are crucial for the needs of heavy and long-distance transport and also for maritime transport and aviation.
The SET Plan has confirmed its role as the key EU energy research and innovation initiative that serves the Energy Union goals and delivers the innovations necessary to achieve the European transition to climate-neutrality by 2050. It has put forward a dedicated vision for each technology area by setting ambitious targets for the next decade(s) with the overall goal to place Europe at the forefront of the next generation of low-carbon energy technologies and of energy efficiency.
Further information available at: www.setplan2019.fi
Conference Outcome here