Lawmakers at the European Parliament and members of the EU Council reached a late-night deal today on the establishment of a carbon tax on imported goods, aimed at equalizing the carbon price paid by European producers with those outside the EU, and avoiding undermining the EU’s actions to reduce product’s emissions with imports from countries with less ambitious climate policies.
Under the new agreement, the new EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) will equalize the price of carbon paid for EU products operating under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) – the EU’s internal cap and trade carbon pricing mechanism – with that paid for products produced in other countries, with companies that import into the EU required to purchase CBAM certificates in order to make up the difference.
The primary purpose of the CBAM system is to avoid “carbon leakage,” a situation in which companies move production of emissions intensive goods to countries with less stringent environmental and climate policies.
A statement from the EU Parliament following the agreement said that the mechanism will also “incentivise non-EU countries to increase their climate ambition,” adding that, “only countries with the same climate ambition as the EU will be able to export to the EU without buying CBAM certificates.”
European Parliament Member Mohammed Chahim, said:
“CBAM will be a crucial pillar of European climate policies. It is one of the only mechanisms we have to incentivise our trading partners to decarbonise their manufacturing industry.”
CBAM will initially apply to specific products from carbon intensive sectors, including iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, aluminum, electricity, hydrogen, and some downstream products such as screws and bolts, as well as to some indirect emissions under certain conditions.
The mechanism will kick in beginning October 2023, and will be phased in over time, with importer obligations at first limited only to reporting of product emissions. Over time, the application of CBAM to other goods at risk of carbon leakage, such as organic chemicals and polymers, will be assessed, with the goal to include all goods covered by the EU ETS by 2030, and the possibility of including more downstream products as well.
The phasing in of CBAM will be done in parallel to the removal of free allowances that are currently in place enabling some sectors to avoid paying for carbon emissions under the EU ETS, ensuring that those sectors avoid “double protection” under the new system. According to the EU Parliament, CBAM is designed to be fully compliant with WTO rules.
The agreement is a major step towards the completion of negotiations for the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” roadmap – the EU’s proposed strategy to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels – by resolving one of its most complex issues, and the one most likely to face opposition from countries and producers outside of the EU. Negotiations on the current agreement have been ongoing since July.
The agreement requires confirmation by ambassadors of the EU member states, and by the European Parliament, and remains provisional on the timing of phasing out of the EU ETS free allowances, which is still under negotiation.
Calling CBAM “a key part of our climate action,” Jozef Síkela, Minister of Industry and Trade of Czechia, said:
“This will ensure a balanced treatment of such imports and is designed to encourage our partners in the world to join the EU’s climate efforts.”
Solvay is taking a step forward towards its 2050 carbon neutrality target by investing at its Dombasle site to test an innovative, breakthrough, and more sustainable soda ash production process.
Solvay’s researchers and engineers have invented a new method to produce soda ash, achieving three revolutionary improvements in the process: emitting 50 percent less CO2; reducing water, brine and limestone consumption; and completely eliminating limestone residues. This should allow Solvay plants to operate more efficiently and sustainably, while enhancing their competitiveness.
The achievement of a further breakthrough milestone in early 2022 created the opportunity for Solvay to accelerate the investments announced today.
If the industrial pilot project confirms the viability of the new production process, Solvay intends to progressively implement it across its facilities in the coming 30 years, as part of Soda Ash & Derivatives business’ journey towards carbon neutrality and elimination of limestone residues.
“I am truly excited about this breakthrough process innovation and the progress it represents towards the achievement of our Solvay One Planet goals. The investment we are making today will pave the way for Solvay to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Ilham Kadri, CEO. “Through the relentless improvement of our environmental footprint and pursuit of more innovative solutions, we are reinventing the soda ash process that was developed by Ernest Solvay himself some 160 years ago. I am proud that Solvay is perpetuating that legacy of innovation, as we lead our industry towards a more sustainable future.”
Solvay is a global leader in the production of soda ash and sodium bicarbonate with 11 production sites all over the world. These products serve essential applications to our everyday lives such as the production of glass and air pollution control systems, as well as applications in the healthcare industry, such as hemodialysis.
Source: press release
The Lenzing Group, world-leading provider of wood-based specialty fibres, has signed an electricity supply contract with green power producer Enery and Energie Steiermark to finance a photovoltaic plant in the Deutschlandsberg region (Styria). The electricity generated will supply the fibre and pulp plant at the Lenzing site after commissioning from the fourth quarter of 2023. The electricity supply contract is limited to 20 years.
The plant’s output will amount to 5.5 MWpeak. This corresponds to the average annual electricity demand of more than 1,700 households. Several photovoltaic systems are already being installed at the Lenzing site, including the largest ground-mounted plant in the province of Upper Austria, whose commissioning is imminent.
“In order to reduce our carbon emissions even further in line with our strategic targets, we aim in the future to rely to an even greater extent on electricity generated from renewable energies. Concepts such as these will make us less dependent on global energy markets in the medium to long term and further support our transition from a linear to a circular economy model,” comments Stephan Sielaff, Lenzing Group CEO.
In 2019, Lenzing became the first fiber manufacturer to set a target to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and to be climate neutral by 2050. This carbon reduction target has been confirmed by the Science Based Targets Initiative. Lenzing is also currently investing in reducing carbon emissions at other sites worldwide. Only recently, the Lenzing Group announced that its Indonesian site will also be relying on green energy in the future.
“We are very pleased to have signed one of the first long-term electricity supply contracts with a leading Austrian industrial company for our first solar park in the province of Styria. In the context of our industry partnership, we are particularly pleased to make a contribution to ensuring that Austrian industry receives competitive and sustainable green power in order to remain internationally competitive within this turbulent market environment,” note Richard König, CEO of Enery, and Lukas Nemec, COO of Enery.
For Christian Purrer and Martin Graf, members of the Management Board of Energie Steiermark, the project is “the result of an efficient and trend-setting interaction between energy companies, regional policymakers and industry, with a clear win-win situation for all parties involved. It exemplifies how quickly green generation projects can be implemented when all stakeholders agree to act together and avoid excuses as to why something can’t be done.”
About the Lenzing Group
The Lenzing Group stands for ecologically responsible production of specialty fibres made from the renewable raw material wood. As an innovation leader, Lenzing is a partner of global textile and non-woven manufacturers and drives many new technological developments.
The Lenzing Group’s high-quality fibres form the basis for a variety of textile applications ranging from elegant clothing to versatile denims and high-performance sports clothing. Due to their consistent high quality, their biodegradability and compostability Lenzing fibres are also highly suitable for hygiene products and agricultural applications.
Together with its customers and partners, Lenzing develops innovative products along the value chain, creating added value for consumers. The Lenzing Group strives for the efficient utilisation and processing of all raw materials and offers solutions to help redirect the textile sector towards a closed-loop economy.
In order to reduce the speed of global warming and to accomplish the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement and the “Green Deal” of the EU Commission, Lenzing has a clear vision: namely to make a zero-carbon future come true.
Source: press release
The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted this week for a strong Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which would require companies to commit to science-based sustainability targets and tangible plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These elements significantly improve on the Commission’s proposal for this directive, which is designed to make it mandatory for businesses to report their impact on people and the planet while giving investors and the public access to comparable, reliable and easily accessible information on sustainability.
“When it comes to holding businesses accountable for harmful practices, knowledge is power. This new agreement is an essential step toward improving EU businesses’ transparency. Citizens and financial institutions will be able to track and compare reliable data on companies' transition plans, how they impact biodiversity and ecosystems and if they make profits from fossil fuels. However, it should be applied to SMEs in high-risk sectors and without delay by Member State,” said Julia Linares Sabater, Senior Sustainable Finance Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.
This vote endorses the provisional agreement reached by the EU Parliament, the Commission and the Council on 21 June 2022. Compared to the Commission proposal, the final text contains more detailed reporting requirements (1). Notably, companies will now be required to publish short, medium and long-term science-based sustainability targets, submit a plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. In addition, the Directive mandates the development and adoption of mandatory corporate sustainability reporting standards, making the EU a front runner on how to report on sustainability impacts. WWF believes that if properly implemented and transposed, this Directive will improve the quality of information companies disclose on sustainability.
The Directive will apply to all large companies and also to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are listed on the stock exchange. However, due to an opt-out clause, those SMEs will report on sustainability issues voluntarily until 2028. Worryingly, however, the Directive leaves out all non-listed SMEs, including those in high-risk sectors, despite their severe impacts on the planet. SMEs account for 99% of EU companies, and most of them are not listed on the stock exchange. It has been proven that voluntary disclosures are not effective. This means that there is little hope for SMEs to be more transparent about their damage to the environment until 2028 (2).
When will the Directive enter into force? The agreement reached by co-legislators proposes a delayed application in 2024 for the companies already covered by the current EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive. The other large companies will get until 2025 to comply.
While the initial proposal was set to be integrated into national law by the end of 2023, the new deal now includes an 18-month transposition period. WWF calls on Member States to urgently implement it for all large companies. The information that will be disclosed as a result of the implementation of the Directive is crucial, both for citizens and financial institutions to make informed decisions and for the application of other EU sustainable finance legislations.
The Council adopted the agreement on Wednesday, 29 June and in the Parliament, the final vote will take place in the plenary session in autumn.
The more detailed reaction of the Alliance for Corporate Transparency, of which WWF is a member, is available here.
Reliable and economical operation
Photovoltaics is doing its part toward meeting continually rising energy requirements. Interest in building increasingly larger and more powerful ground-mounted photovoltaic systems is on the rise worldwide, as in Portugal. Networking, monitoring, and communication are absolutely essential in this regard, particularly in relation to consistent network quality and maintenance in line with requirements.
According to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), over half of Portugal's electricity comes from renewable energies. A look at the installed capacities shows that hydropower and wind power play a key role above all, while photovoltaics (PV) are hardly used. This is currently changing significantly. By the end of 2021, ground-mounted systems with a total capacity of 1.7 GWp have been constructed in Portugal. Forecasts through 2030 project the construction of an additional 9 GWp. Wirtgen Invest Holding GmbH, headquartered in Neustadt (Wied) is one of the companies investing in Portugal for this. Wirtgen Invest built six photovoltaic systems in 2020 and 2021, with a total output of 195 MWp. Moura, the fifth park, was successfully connected to the grid in mid-2021. It is located in the southeast of Portugal near the Spanish border, and encompasses over 130,000 PV panels, generating a nominal power of 49.4 MWp. The photovoltaic system directly feeds into the power grid on the high-voltage level via a substation newly constructed on the grounds. The power is then marketed under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
Complete and seamless solution
"An investment in the future" is how Jürgen and Stefan Wirtgen, the two General Managers of the holding, describe the large-scale PV project which they implemented alongside additional partners. These include WiNRG GmbH from Hamburg, which has been active in the area of renewable energies since 2005. The company's employees manage large projects and transactions involving wind and photovoltaics systems worldwide for their customers. The project team also includes project manager EPC Conecon GmbH, Zebotec GmbH as the system integrator for controlling and monitoring photovoltaic systems, and analytics software provider QOS Energy, together with Phoenix Contact. The automation specialist from Blomberg delivered the integrated PV park management for the six solar parks. Along with the neighboring photovoltaic systems Amareleja and Ferreira do Alentejo and the Cartaxo and Santarem parks north of Lisbon, as well as the Lagos plant in the Algarve, Moura produces over 325 million MWh of green power each year. This power supplies over 80,000 four-person households and saves 140,000 tons of CO2.
Smart automation technology from Phoenix Contact continuously records all data from the solar park, which is then analysed by the Asset Performance Management solution from QOS Energy. From data recording on the field level to feed-in control and visualisation, the Blomberg company provides WiNRG GmbH with a complete and seamless solution for solar park management. The integrated photovoltaic park management enables reliable and economical operation of the solar park.
Needs-based regulation of the inverter
Since the individual PV parks have a similar structure, the concept can be explained using the example of the plant in Moura. At total of 525 space-saving string combiner boxes (SCB) collect the currents from the 7350 PV strings and conduct them to the same number of SHP75 inverters from SMA. In the SCB, the DC cables are protected and secured against overvoltage. This is important because, due to their size and exposed location, ground-mounted systems are particularly at risk from lightning currents and overvoltage. Lightning current and surge protective devices from Phoenix Contact significantly improve the availability of the solar park. The devices fulfil EN 50539-11 and UL 1449, 3rd edition standards for surge protection in photovoltaic installations and are KEMA-certified. The SCB can be disconnected if maintenance is required so that service work can be carried out safely.
The AC voltages converted by the inverters are transferred to 20 transformer stations installed in the field, where they are transformed from 0.4 kV to 30 kV.
Before the solar power can be fed into the local power grid, transformers convert the collected AC voltages from 30 kV to 60 kV at the grid connection point. Measuring devices here record the grid parameters and communicate them to the central feed-in controller. Decentral power generation plants need to play their part in ensuring higher grid stability. For this purpose, the responsible grid operators specify the ranges to be maintained for the grid frequency and voltage as well as the reactive power in their grid connection conditions for photovoltaic systems. Regulators for power generation systems (PGP regulators) record the voltage and reactive power present at the grid connection points to check these values. The devices from Phoenix Contact then determine the respective control values on this basis and forward them to the inverters, which can be regulated if needed.
Fast commissioning of data loggers and environmental sensors
In addition to generating power, large solar parks like Moura produce large quantities of data that must be collected, processed, and analysed in order to then assess how economically the photovoltaic system is running. Because of this, there is a data logger on each of the 20 transformer stations. The devices work using an automatic detection mode, which is why all of the systems installed in the PV park can be easily connected via Plug and Play. Since this eliminates the need for configuration, startup time is reduced considerably. The inverter manager integrated in the data logger receives the data from the inverter via Ethernet, and transmits it to the AXC 1050 small-scale controller from the Axiocontrol product family, which is also installed there. In addition, the AXC 1050 collects data from the connected weather sensors.
A total of six weather stations are mounted in the Moura solar park, with 14 module temperature sensors, eight pyranometers, twelve reference cells, two wind direction sensors, two wind speed sensors, and two combination sensors for temperature, humidity, and air pressure. The environmental sensors from Phoenix Contact are directly connected to the control system via a Modbus protocol. Because the devices are preconfigured, they are immediately available to transmit weather data. Instead of individually wiring each sensor, the sensors are simply connected in series thanks to the M12 connections with Y distributors. This greatly reduces the amount of wiring required on site, and makes it easier to integrate the sensors into the overall system. As opposed to compact weather stations, the sensors available from Phoenix Contact are individual modules. So if a device fails, only this sensor needs to be replaced.
Simple forwarding of all data to the central park control
Using weather sensors allows an operator to draw conclusions regarding the power of the solar system – the so-called performance ratio (PR). This value is calculated using the ratio between the actual and target yield, whereas the actual yield is determined from the installed energy measuring devices. The pyranometer and reference cells, installed at the module level both horizontally and tilted by 25 degrees, provide information on the target yield. If the calculated performance ratio is too low, the operator can adjust the regulation accordingly. The data loggers also receive digital signals, which contain information on the transformer temperature and the status of the switching device. All data from the inverters, weather sensors, transformers, and switching device is transmitted via a redundant ring structure over fibre optic cables to a central park control located in the control room. Thanks to the open and flexible control platform from Phoenix Contact, forwarding to the Asset Performance Management Portal of QOS Energy is simple. The specific analyses, warnings, and reports resulting from the data then rationalise the work processes of the OEM service provider.
Architects, high-level European officials, and sustainability and construction experts will take to Brussels from 9 to 12 June for the first New European Bauhaus Festival.
The event will offer a chance to discuss and share ideas on how to build the cities of the future, reshaping the urban landscape with greener and more appealing structures. The festival is one of the pillars of the New European Bauhaus, an EU initiative inspired by the Green Deal marrying innovative architectural concepts with science, beauty and inclusivity.
After shunning nature for decades in favour of crowded buildings of metal and concrete, the New European Bauhaus is prompting architects to turn their gaze on trees, leaves and green spaces. It encourages experts to bring nature back into people’s daily lives and make it an integral part of the construction and urban spaces of the future.
The hybrid in-person and online Brussels gathering will be an invaluable opportunity for the community to look for a way forward, defining where the New European Bauhaus is heading and how to put ideas into practice.
The programme boasts a combination of talks, debates and workshops with cultural and artistic events, including performances, exhibits, installations, videos and live paintings.
Among the highlights is the 11 June ceremony that will crown the winners of this year’s New European Bauhaus prizes. The awards will celebrate inspiring projects and ideas that exemplify the New European Bauhaus’ core values.
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, will participate in the festival’s opening event emblematically titled ‘From local to global and back again’.
Debates will centre around ideas such as building liveable cities, transforming the urban landscape in times of global crisis and creating new structures under the New European Bauhaus’ motto: “Beautiful. Sustainable. Together.”
Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, will be among the EU officials in attendance.
For Gabriel, this will be yet another opportunity to contribute to the New European Bauhaus conversation – on 9 June, Gabriel will remotely join the Eurocities annual conference in Espoo where she will participate in a discussion on solutions and challenges for the creation of sustainable cities.
The war in Ukraine will also enter the Brussels event, with participants called to debate how to lead the country’s reconstruction. The idea is to combine sustainability, cultural heritage and inclusiveness in a hoped-for post-conflict era.
In introducing the New European Bauhaus in April 2021, von der Leyen called on local leaders to provide ideas to “make the European Green Deal tangible and palpable” and “add a cultural dimension to the economic and technological transformation”.
“Indeed, local governments are at the heart of the New Bauhaus project,” says Pietro Reviglio, Policy Advisor on Governance at Eurocities. “City administrations are becoming ambassadors of the initiative on the ground and are looking for opportunities to move from talk to action.” However, “for many cities, it will be important to be able to tap into incentives and funding opportunities to be able to sustain the initiative in the long-term,” Reviglio warns.
Cities will be actively engaged in the festival, with municipalities like Lille and Brussels – for example – co-organising a side event on “fruitful cooperation for shaping the New European Bauhaus.”
The New European Bauhaus’ name takes after the architecture, design and applied arts movement that first developed in Germany from 1919 to 1933.
Founded by architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus introduced a new style that favoured geometric, symmetric and asymmetric lines, a clean design emphasizing functionality and a no-frills approach in the post-World War I industrialized world. The new school was interdisciplinary and combined technology with architecture, arts, crafts and design.
Although the Nazis closed the Bauhaus school in 1933, its creators exported the movement to countries such as the United States and Israel, where it continued to creatively expand from its creators’ original ideas.
The aesthetic revolution that the Bauhaus set in motion was so groundbreaking that the movement continues to inspire countless architects, artists and designers to these days.
Today’s New European Bauhaus is the brainchild of the1920’s original movement.
When von der Leyen introduced the Commission-led initiative, she highlighted the defining principles of the New European Bauhaus: inclusivity, aesthetic and sustainability. With the addition of nature, this architectural style is now ready to enter the 21st century.