By Fabrice Stassin Managing Director Energy Materials Industrial Research Initiative (EMIRI)
No Advanced Materials - No Energy!
Among the many challenges faced by Europe, the new European Commission has clearly made Energy a top priority. Commission President Juncker wants a European Energy Union strongly rooted in low-carbon energy to support the SET-Plan targets of secure, affordable and sustainable energy.
The development and deployment of these low-carbon energy technologies needed to meet Europe’s 2030 energy and climate goals is clearly enabled by advanced materials. Indeed, without continuous innovation in advanced materials, it would not be possible to increase the performance, reduce the cost and extend lifetime of low-carbon energy technologies.
Solar modules, wind turbine blades, batteries used to store energy all rely upon advanced materials developed and/or produced in Europe. The sector remains a strong provider of high-quality jobs for researchers, innovators, and operators while contributing to GDP from manufacturing. The future looks bright for advanced materials for low-carbon energy (the market could grow at about 10% per year from EUR 14 billion in 2015 to EUR 35 billion in 2030) but Europe’s industrial leadership faces strong international competition.
Capacity for production of low-carbon energy through solar modules, wind turbines etc. is developing rapidly outside of Europe. Consequently, the manufacturing of advanced materials is also establishing close to end-markets and innovation activities may partially follow the trend. Safeguarding and reinforcing Europe’s industrial leadership in strategic energy technologies and enabling competitiveness require the development and implementation of an appropriate industry and innovation policy framework.
Europe needs to focus on an ambitious innovation pillar to develop and manufacture better performing, less costly advanced materials. For instance, the efficiency of solar modules needs to increase, the weight of wind turbine components must be reduced and corrosion resistance improved, batteries need to demonstrate longer life cycles, and so on. Moreover low-carbon energy technologies often use critical metals whose potential scarcity must be addressed through advanced materials.
Reinforced public - private interactions between key industrial players, leading research organisations and the European Commission are of vital importance for Europe. These will lead to the launch of innovation programmes and the development of more European value chains serving green end-markets.
Only by partnering will we be able to accelerate the journey of advanced materials from the lab to the production line to the market for the benefit of Europe as a whole. Let’s innovate!
EMIRI (Energy Materials Industrial Research Initiative) is the leading industry-driven association representing the interests of more than 60 organisations (industry, research, associations) active in the field of advanced materials for low-carbon energy. Our members represent at least EUR 4 billion of sales of advanced materials for low-carbon energy, they invest more than EUR 400 million annually in Research & Innovation for low-carbon energy and can mobilise several thousands of researchers and engineers. EMIRI aims to contribute to the industrial leadership of Europe-based developers, producers and key users of advanced materials for low-carbon energy technologies through the development of an appropriate industry and innovation policy framework based upon the SET-Plan. For more information, visit www.emiri.eu